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Define activation synthesis dream theory | scholarly …

21/03/2012 · How does the activation-synthesis theory explain ..

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Define activation synthesis dream theory

Still other laboratory studies concluded that NREM dream reports do not differ very much from REM reports, especially late in the sleep period when participants are awakened from Stage II NREM (Antrobus, 1983; Antrobus, Kondo, & Reinsel, 1995; Cicogna, Natale, Occhionero, & Bosinelli, 1998). This conclusion was first denied and then downplayed by activation-synthesis theorists because of their emphasis on REM sleep as the basis for the allegedly bizarre nature of dreams (Hobson, et al., 2000b). More recently activation-synthesis theorists have found it more difficult to defend their REM-based theory of activation since results from one of their own studies demonstrated that REM and Stage II NREM reports are increasingly similar after the third REM period, as earlier studies also showed (R. Fosse, Stickgold, & Hobson, 2004). They now cling to the fact that two studies using their database of home-collected REM and NREM dream reports found differences in the frequency of aggression in the REM and Stage II NREM reports (McNamara, McLaren, & Durso, 2007; McNamara, McLaren, Smith, Brown, & Stickgold, 2005). In the first of these studies, 24% of 100 late-night REM reports had at least one hostility or aggression, compared to only 12% for the 100 NREM reports, but that leaves 82% of the dreams in the combined sample similar in that they contained no aggression. Moreover, there were no differences on friendly interactions in the first of the two studies. In the second study, there were more similarities than differences for reports from the two stages of sleep.

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In general, then, REM dreams are a more realistic enactment of everyday life than is suggested by the psychiatric tradition from which the Freudian, Jungian, and activation-synthesis theories derive. However, this does not mean there is no bizarreness in dreams, just far less than Freudian, Jungian, and activation-synthesis theorists assume. But the secondary nature of bizarreness in dreams also raises another question: what about bizarreness in waking thought? Studies of waking thought samples suggest that there are far more jumps in thinking and the sudden appearance of thoughts that seem to come out of nowhere than is implied by a juxtaposition of bizarre dreaming with rational waking thought (Kane, et al., 2007; Klinger, 1999; Klinger & Cox, 1987-1988).

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Activation-synthesis theorists argue that dreaming is the by-product of the "off-line" cognitive processing and sleep-dependent memory consolidation that allegedly occur during all stages of sleep, with some stages of sleep enhancing one kind of learning and other stages aiding other kinds (Stickgold, 2005). There are several major problems with this claim. First, there are serious methodological problems with the research on memory consolidation during sleep that have not been answered; it seems unlikely to some sleep researchers that very many, if any, of the claims about any special role for sleep in enhancing memory consolidation will be sustained (J. Siegel, 2001; J Siegel, 2005; Vertes & Eastman, 2000; Vertes & Siegel, 2005).

Several clinically oriented dream researchers from outside the Freudian, Jungian, and activation-synthesis realms believe that dreams have a general problem-solving function. However, this idea seems unlikely when it is realized that most people remember only a few percent of their many nightly dreams. More importantly, dreams collected inside and outside the sleep laboratory rarely have even the hint of a solution to a problem, and most of the anecdotal examples that are provided by proponents of the theory actually involve reveries, drug-induced states, or thoughts while falling asleep or waking up (Domhoff, 2003b, pp. 158-162).

Top 10 Theories Of Why We Dream – Listverse

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If there are more similarities than differences between dreaming and waking cognition, then there may be only small changes when alert waking thought turns into dreaming. Therefore, the key issue is not the activation of a "primary process" and "repressed" wishes, as in Freudian theory, nor the expression of "archetypal symbols" lodged within an inherited "collective unconscious," as in Jungian theory. Nor is there a need for allegedly random stimulation from the pontine tegmentum within the brain stem or for the unique neurochemical state that is part of REM sleep, as in activation-synthesis theory (Hobson, 2002; Hobson, Pace-Schott, & Stickgold, 2000b).

Thus, the activation-synthesis theorists are refuted in their emphasis on the brain stem origins of dreaming because slight differences in actual content, which activation-synthesis theorists usually dismiss as a secondary issue, are not enough to defend their weak claim that REM activation is the only basis for vivid dreaming. Nor does it make sense to resort to the claim that "covert REM sleep" is causing the Stage II NREM dreams (Hobson, 2000; Hobson, Pace-Schott, & Stickgold, 2000a; Nielsen, 2000). It is be more accurate to say that common sources are activating the brain in REM and Stage II NREM to a level where dreaming can occur (Wamsley, et al., 2007). This broader view fits with a cognitive theory of dreams, which emphasizes the level of brain activation, whatever its source.

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Four very different types of unexpected research findings from inside and outside the sleep laboratory since the 1950s make it possible to suggest a new cognitive approach to dreaming and dream content, an approach that has the potential to be extended into a neurocognitive theory as well. These findings, which are discussed throughout this article, cast doubt on the Freudian, Jungian, and activation-synthesis theories that dominated thinking about dreams in the twentieth century. Those three theories all began with the idea that there were major differences between waking cognition and dreaming, but the findings presented in this article suggest that there are far more parallels between dreaming and waking thought than they realized (Domhoff, 2003b).

Dreaming, Philosophy of | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

In concluding this overview of findings on dream content inside and outside the sleep laboratory, it should be noted that the coherence, consistency, and continuity of most dream content revealed in virtually every study is not what would be expected on the basis of Freudian, Jungian, or activation-synthesis theory. In fact, these studies contradict every specific hypothesis that was put forth by Freud in The Interpretation of Dreams (1900), as shown in detailed critiques of the theory and its current main proponent, Mark Solms (Domhoff, 2003b, pp. 136-143; 2004). In the case of Jungian theory, the finding of continuity between dreams and waking concerns is in direct contradiction to its claim that dreaming has a "compensatory" function (according to this key Jungian tenet, dreams purportedly reveal the underdeveloped aspects of the psyche that are not expressed in waking life) (Jung, 1974). As for activation-synthesis theory, it is most severely challenged at the content level by the realistic and coherent nature of dream content revealed in both laboratory studies and studies of lengthy dream journals that stretch over decades.

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