Tag Archives: blindness

Top 10 Amazing Facts About Dreams

via Listverse

dreams-max10241_250pxThis afternoon I had a (very rare) nap. During that nap I had a lucid dream (most of which I no longer remember). As I was waking up, I was thinking about my dream and thought that it would be a great idea to write a list about dreams for the site. So, here are the top 10 amazing facts about dreams.

• 10. Blind People Dream

People who become blind after birth can see images in their dreams. People who are born blind do not see any images, but have dreams equally vivid involving their other senses of sound, smell, touch and emotion. It is hard for a seeing person to imagine, but the body’s need for sleep is so strong that it is able to handle virtually all physical situations to make it happen.

• 9. You Forget 90% of your Dreams

Within 5 minutes of waking, half of your dream if forgotten. Within 10, 90% is gone. The famous poet, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, woke one morning having had a fantastic dream (likely opium induced) – he put pen to paper and began to describe his “vision in a dream” in what has become one of English’s most famous poems: Kubla Khan. dream-mirror-dreams-can-come-true-31082814-900-900_300pxPart way through (54 lines in fact) he was interrupted by a “Person from Porlock“. Coleridge returned to his poem but could not remember the rest of his dream. The poem was never completed.

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.

Curiously, Robert Louis Stevenson came up with the story of Doctor Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde whilst he was dreaming. Wikipedia has more on that here. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein was also the brainchild of a dream.

• 8. Everybody Dreams

Every human being dreams (except in cases of extreme psychological disorder) but men and women have different dreams and different physical reactions. Men tend to dream more about other men, while women tend to dream equally about men and women. In addition, both men and women experience sexually related physical reactions to their dreams regardless of whether the dream is sexual in nature; males experience erections and females experience increased vaginal blood flow.

• 7. Dreams Prevent Psychosis

17paddedcelljune5-tm_250pxIn a recent sleep study, students who were awakened at the beginning of each dream, but still allowed their 8 hours of sleep, all experienced difficulty in concentration, irritability, hallucinations, and signs of psychosis after only 3 days. When finally allowed their REM sleep the student’s brains made up for lost time by greatly increasing the percentage of sleep spent in the REM stage. [Source

• 6. We Only Dream of What We Know

Our dreams are frequently full of strangers who play out certain parts – did you know that your mind is not inventing those faces – they are real faces of real people that you have seen during your life but may not know or remember? The evil killer in your latest dream may be the guy who pumped petrol in to your Dad’s car when you were just a little kid. We have all seen hundreds of thousands of faces through our lives, so we have an endless supply of characters for our brain to utilize during our dreams.

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More Inattentional Blindness

via NeuroLogica Blog

First, take the challenge presented in this video:

This is a demonstration of inattentional blindness (or attentional blindness) – when we are focused on one task this interferes with our processing of other information. This is exactly why you should not text while driving, or even talk on the phone while driving.

The cause of this is conceptually simple: our brains have limited processing power, more limited than we would like to think. When we use some of that processing power for one task it is not available for other tasks, even basic tasks like seeing obvious things right in front of our eyes. This concept is called load theory, and researchers have documented numerous ways in which it manifests. A related concept is that of interference – when we perform one task it reduces our performance on other tasks. In fact, the act of multitasking itself causes interference because multitasking requires processing power (it takes brain power to switch among more than one task)  which is taken away from each task.

Interference is probably greater for tasks that are vying for the same parts of the brain. It seems that different areas or modules in the brain participate in multiple networks engaging in different tasks. Placing a processing load on one module for different tasks causes significant interference. Some modules participate is very basic functions, like perception, attention, and memory, and therefore become overloaded very easily.

A recent study has demonstrated a new aspect of this phenomenon. Up to now research demonstrating inattentional blindness has used visual clutter to distract from seeing the target – following the basketball interfered with the ability to detect the gorilla. The new research creates the same effect without visual clutter but instead using visual memory:

Participants in the study were given a visual memory task to complete while the researchers looked at the activity in their brains using functional magnetic resonance imaging. The findings revealed that while the participants were occupied with remembering an image they had just been shown, they failed to notice a flash of light that they were asked to detect, even though there was nothing else in their visual field at the time.

This research suggests that remembering an image uses similar resources to seeing an image – that visual memory and perception are similar in terms of the brain resources that are used (which is in line with previous research).

Assuming the results of this study are reproducible, it extends the implications of inattentional blindness. Not only is texting or using a cell phone distracting while driving, the researchers suggest that trying to visualize directions or remember that image on a navigational GPS system can cause interference and reduce a driver’s ability to detect obstacles in front of them.

There are a few take-home messages from this line of research I would like to emphasize.

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