An Evolutionary Psychology of Sleep and Dreams

An Evolutionary Psychology of Sleep and Dreams

An Evolutionary Psychology of Sleep and Dreams

An Evolutionary Psychology of Sleep and Dreams

Synopsis

Explains an unprecedented application of evolutionary analysis to REM sleep and dreams, showing how evolutionary conflict theory and costly signaling theory can shed new light on old problems and puzzles in the study of sleep and dreams.

Excerpt

The year 1953 was fateful and portentous in the history of the biological sciences as it was the year in which the molecular structure of the DNA molecule and the genetic code was worked out by Crick and Watson. It was also the year in which Aserinsky and Kleitman discovered REM sleep. While subsequent investigations of the DNA molecule and the genetic code have led to tremendous scientific, medical, technical, and industrial advances, subsequent investigations of REM have sometimes seemed only to deepen the mystery of REM's biology and functions. If REM's functions, including the potential functions of dreams, can be identified, I believe investigations of REM will lead to medical, technical, and industrial advances similar to those which followed the investigations of DNA structure and function.

The biology of REM sleep is a fascinating conglomeration of characteristics that have puzzled scientists ever since its initial description and discovery in 1953. The purpose of this book is to consider the psychobiology of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep in the light of evolutionary theory. I hope thereby to explore new approaches to potential functions of REM and REM-related dreaming. The functional biology of the other major mammalian sleep state, non-REM (NREM), will be explored only insofar as it sheds some light on REM.

I owe a special debt of gratitude to student interns in my laboratory for help in reviewing selected topics relevant to REM expression and issues discussed in this book. These students and I went over dozens of articles on multiple topics and in painstaking detail. It was fun and I think we all learned a lot! Among these students, Mary Klecan worked on pregnancy and sleep, as well as menstruation and sleep. Karima Hassan worked on mentation associated with stage NREM and slow wave sleep (SWS); Justin Gan worked on sleep and suicide and developed a fine master's thesis on the topic. Gillian Chapman worked on pregnancy and dreaming as well as the separate issue of perseveration and the frontal lobes. That work was later . . .

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