The relationship of dreaming to memory consolidation during sleep, and to pre- and post- sleep cognition

Mark Blagrove

Breakout session:

An Ullman dream appreciation group with artwork produced so as to revisit the dream
Mark Blagrove will conduct an Ullman Dream Appreciation session following the group technique
described by psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Montague Ullman (1996, Appreciating Dreams: a Group
Approach, Sage books). The stages of the technique are: recall and clarification of the dream;
groups members’ projections about the dream; dreamer describes their recent waking life; dream is
read back; connections between dream and dreamer’s waking life are suggested by the group. The
Gains from Dream Interpretation questionnaire will be completed. As a separate activity, during the
session, artist Dr Julia Lockheart will create a painting of the dream onto a page taken (with
publisher’s permission) from Freud’s book The Interpretation of Dreams, incorporating into the
artwork the text format and keywords. A gallery of these artworks, and rationale for this art science
collaboration, including hypothesized empathy changes, can be seen at http://DreamsID.com. An
enlarged print of the artwork is sent to the dreamer after the event and can be used to revisit the
dream with friends and family.

Key note:

The relationship of dreaming to memory consolidation during sleep, and to pre- and post-
sleep cognition
There is considerable research on how REM sleep and Slow Wave Sleep are related to memory
consolidation. These consolidation processes prioritize emotional and salient memories. Dreaming
also incorporates emotional memories from waking life, and so it has been proposed that dreaming
reflects functional neural processes during sleep. Arguments in favor, and against this possibility will
be explored. That dreams refer to waking life experiences in an associative or metaphorical manner
has been seen to be a result of processes of linking new memories to established memories, guided
by emotions common to each. That we are embodied in the dream, in a simulation of the waking
world, may be required for full processing of emotions, or may have another, practice-based virtual
reality function. Separate from the debate on dream function is the debate on whether the
consideration of dreams by the dreamer when awake, can elicit insight. This possibility is supported
by the finding that dreams preferentially incorporate emotional experiences, and refer to them
metaphorically. Designs for testing this against the null hypothesis, that dreams do not tell us
anything new, will be discussed.



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