The Neuropsychology of Sleep and Dreaming

The Neuropsychology of Sleep and Dreaming

The Neuropsychology of Sleep and Dreaming

The Neuropsychology of Sleep and Dreaming

Synopsis

This volume describes how the conceptual and technical sophistication of contemporary cognitive and neuroscientific fields has enhanced the neurocognitive understanding of dreaming sleep. Because it is the only naturally-occurring state in which the active brain produces elaborate cognitive processes in the absence of sensory input, the study of dreaming offers a unique cognitive and neurophysiological view of the production of higher cognitive processes. The theory and research included is driven by the search for the most direct relationships linking the neurophysiological characteristics of sleepers to their concurrent cognitive experiences. The search is organized around three sets of theoretical models and the three classes of neurocognitive relationships upon which they are based. The contributions to this volume demonstrate that the field has begun to move in new directions opened up by the rapid advances in contemporary cognitive science, neuropsychology, and neurophysiology.

Excerpt

Ever since the discovery by Aserinsky and Kleitman in 1953 of the relation between dreaming and the electrophysiological measures derived from the electroencephalogram and electro-oculogram, a small band of scientists has pursued the search for the functional links between the cognitive and neurophysiological characteristics of dreaming sleep. In the early 1960s, as many as 200 full-time investigators, graduate students, and psychiatric residents were active in the field and the National Institute of Mental Health devoted about ten percent of its research budget to research on sleep and dreaming.

Much of the credit for developing this exciting new field goes to William Dement, Allan Rechtshaffen, and David Foulkes, three enormously creative and dedicated scientists who began their careers in the 1950s and 1960s as graduate students at the University of Chicago. Like Eugene Aserinsky, Bill Dement was a student of Nathaniel Kleitman in the Department of Physiology at the University of Chicago, but unlike Aserinsky's concern with traditional physiology, Bill's interests extended to mind-brain relationships, particularly as they changed with states of sleeping and waking. Bill became an indefatigable champion of research on sleep neurophysiology and dreaming. His early experiments on the incorporation of external stimuli into the dreams of sleeping subjects, including the duration of dream events, on the eye movement scanning hypothesis of dreaming, and on the consequences of dream deprivation, examined with expert precision questions that most people thought were beyond the reach of experimental science. He communicated his excitement about sleep research to large and small audiences all over North America and Europe both through his lectures and in 1972 with his succinct survey of the field in Some must watch while some must sleep. He has travelled constantly, encouraging and advising investigators in every aspect of sleep research.

Although it is difficult to appreciate from our contemporary perspective, experimental psychologists were, in the 1950s, strongly discouraged from using any kind of description of one's private experience as research data. The publication of experiments that used dream "reports" as data in the Journal of Experimental Psychology by Dement and Kleitman, both of . . .

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