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Dreaming: Exploring the Unconscious World

Updated on February 6, 2010

fMRI Brain Scans

Waking life versus Dreaming

The mind is like an iceberg, it floats with one-seventh of its bulk above water.
Sigmund Freud

The exploration of the unconscious mind owes its dues to the wonderful mental process known as dreaming. The REM cycle is the last and lightest of all the sleep cycles, with a combination of alpha, beta, and desynchronous waves (Explain Brain Waves). This state is most closely related with wakefulness and alertness. During the REM cycle, the Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) is active, creating temperature, heart rate, and breathing fluctuations - in my opinion, this would hint at the fact that you are still "affected" by what is going on, even though it is not physically taking place.

Graphic of what's going on in your brain

I made this c:
I made this c:

What is your body doing?

The rise in acetylcholine depolarizes the thalamus. The activity in the thalamus stimulates the cortex, making it more sensitive to sensory input. Though all senses and muscle movements are inhibited during REM, brain scans have shown activity in areas of sight, smell, hearing, and balance.

While you are dreaming, the thalamus is keeping out all external stimuli even though your brain believes you are receiving it. It is simply a copy made by the somatosensory in the cortex based on your waking life.

How dreams can affect your waking life

Jung believes the language of dreams are comparable to poetry. Dreams unlock the doors to our unconscious thoughts, feelings, and desires we are most likely unaware of. They are also a good memory tonic, ridding your mind of the little pieces of information that are insignificant. Even the way that dreams are laid out in plot help strengthen our memory. Studies show illogical locations, characters, and scene smoothness/roughness help the brain
strengthen linking and consolidation of declarative memory. Dreams mainly strengthen procedural memory which is a unconscious knowledge that is difficult to articulate verbally. Some examples would be learning to ride a bike, play an instrument, or other things of the sort.

Random Facts

Each dream only lasts from 5-20 minutes but the REM cycle is repeated up to four times per night.

The pineal gland secretes a chemical known as Dimethyltryptamine, or DMT, which has some correlation with visualization/dreaming. The pineal gland is the most mysterious organ in the body (also known as the third eye, or seat of the soul). Scientists are unsure of its purpose or how DMT plays a role in dreaming for that matter. DMT is also released in the death process. Very interesting topic.

Dream Incorporation has been noted in Dali's work, Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee around a Pomegranate a Second Before Awakening, which occurs when an external stimulus interferes with one's dream. The person quickly realizes it, becomes aware they are in a dream, and wakes up. It's usually in some form of audio.

Cortisol levels increase during REM, making anxiety the most prominent emotion. Negative feelings may be more common than positive.

That concludes this article. A related hub here: Dream Recall - How to Enhance Dreaming.

also...if you're bored. Here's this too.

Have trouble with anxiety? Being a Wallflower: The Trouble with Social Anxiety Also relates to the problems with prescription medications and faulty ADD/ADHD treatment.


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    • zaureny profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Much appreciated Ms Kelpie and dali48.

    • Ms Kelpie profile image

      Ms Kelpie 

      8 years ago from Ft Lauderdale

      quick and to the point :-). I've always believed that dreams have great meaning, and shouldn't be overlooked. kinda like your souls reflection on random aspects of your life. its hard for emotions to lie in dreams. Great comment about the DMT, and i didn't know that cortisol levels are associated with anxiety. def going to check it out!

    • zaureny profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      Thanks a lot, there'll be more soon.

    • Ivorwen profile image


      9 years ago from Hither and Yonder

      Very interesting information. Looking forward to reading more.

    • Phrenism profile image


      9 years ago

      Very nice, informative and detailed hub! Gootwork :)


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