Dream Reality

Question: Dream Reality - Why do dreams seem so real?

"We experience a dream as real because it is real…the miracle is how, without any help from the sense organs, the brain creates a dream reality and replicates in the dream all the sensory information that creates the world we live in when we are awake.” William Dement

Replacing the mystical view of dreams with a real understanding of modern dream science, provides a more complete picture of the relationship between dreams and the brain and helps us to understand how our brain creates our dream reality, and why they appear so real to us in the dream state.

With new technological advancements in neural imaging, with the advent of PET, CAT scans and MRI’s, recent research has delved further into understanding dreams and the brain than ever before.

For the first time we now know that the brain becomes re-activated when we enter dream sleep or REM.

As the brain goes to sleep it becomes less activated and then like clockwork several times a night becomes re-activated as it is in waking but with a major difference.

It is selectively re-activated.

That is, it has been re-activated in a way that allows it to deal with internal sensations as opposed to external sensations.
So only part of the brain wakes up and it seems to be even more active than it is during waking. As some areas are becoming re-activated some are becoming de-activated.

More specifically:

The dorsal lateral pre-frontal cortex becomes de-activated when we are dreaming. This is the part of the brain responsible for decisions or volition. This is also the rational part of the brain, however there are other areas of the brain that deal with rationality so we don’t loose all rational thinking when we dream.

Dreams appear so real because this main rational part of our brain is de-activated while we dream. This means the part of our brain that would interrupt and say;"Hey! Why am I scared?" is not awake.Thus why we perceive whatever we are afraid of in our dream as being a real threat.

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