Are dreams experiences?

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  • #26
disregardthat
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Please read back regarding my sleep talking.

I have conversations with 'whoever' in my sleep, people bring these up to me in the morning and ask me what it was about. They know everything I said.
I wasn't actually commenting on your post there, but regardless, it's probably not one way or another.
 
  • #27
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I wasn't actually commenting on your post there, but regardless, it's probably not one way or another.
Didn't say you were, but it doesn't support the hypothesis in the OP.
 
  • #28
Pythagorean
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(bold mine)

Is this consistent with studies where subjects are awakened during REM sleep and are able to describe their dreams?

My real question is: Does Dennet do any research of his own, or does he cite any research to back his ideas?
I haven't read the article, but I doubt it. Dennet is not a neuroscientist. I had trouble with some of his intuition pumps in the past, they don't seem to respect the actual neuroscience.

I myself have no idea of Dennet is wrong or right. It seems to me, every time you wake somebody up, they could have experienced it all right there when you woke them, and not been experiencing it while they were unconscious.

Is there really any way to tell?

Even in Jared's anecdote, he could have exhibited the sleep-walking behavior as part of some random neuromodulation during REM, then not experienced the bits and pieces of it until the moment he woke up. Then as he talked to his brother, he implanted little additional memories that kept it congruent.

I don't think Dennet is right, but I'm curious how there is evidence proving him wrong. If somebody can test that kind of statement, we're a lot closer to understanding subjective experience than I thought.
 
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  • #29
disregardthat
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Sometimes I notice that if I wake up by a sound, the sound is implemented in the dream, often to the point of which I have a hard time believing that a simple noise right before awakening could make a small coherent story.
 
  • #30
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I'll reply more later, but I should quickly point out a couple things about Dennet's speculation:
1. Dennet acknowledges his evidence isn't that compelling, only that it seems to fit with a lot of what we observed about dreams
2. Dennet is talking about this more to talk about reports of experience generally than to provide the best account for dreams. We shouldn't say that he genuinely believes this view to be correct.
'
For the more interested the article is printed in the book "Brainstorms: philosophical essays on mind and psychology", a collection of Dennet Essays. (The book is interesting, but it's 30 years old, I wouldn't recommend it to someone who just wants a good book of philosophy of the mind/consciousness)
 
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  • #31
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Even in Jared's anecdote, he could have exhibited the sleep-walking behavior as part of some random neuromodulation during REM, then not experienced the bits and pieces of it until the moment he woke up. Then as he talked to his brother, he implanted little additional memories that kept it congruent.

I don't think Dennet is right, but I'm curious how there is evidence proving him wrong. If somebody can test that kind of statement, we're a lot closer to understanding subjective experience than I thought.
Clarification, it is sleep talking. May be only a small issue, but the fact I have said conversation and others have heard it for me tells me it's happening during sleep not when I wake up.

If it was true, surely a brain scan during wake up would show heightened activity as all of those 'experiences' occur? Given this is not the case and this activity is not shown during wake up, I don't know what else you can give (or need).
 
  • #32
Ryan_m_b
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Clarification, it is sleep talking. May be only a small issue, but the fact I have said conversation and others have heard it for me tells me it's happening during sleep not when I wake up.

If it was true, surely a brain scan during wake up would show heightened activity as all of those 'experiences' occur? Given this is not the case and this activity is not shown during wake up, I don't know what else you can give (or need).
I agree. It seems illogical to suppose that the memories are retrospectively laid down. If I shout "get away from me" or "spiders" then woke up and said I was dreaming about spiders all over me why would anyone propose that those shouts were random and upon waking I instantly created a story that would fit them.

I'm also sceptical that long and vivid dreams can be retrospectively memorised at such speeds upon waking.
 
  • #33
disregardthat
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Now, the memories might not necessarily occur at the time you wake up, it may be that they are created in some lighter stages of sleep, or even at a semi-conscious level. This is only idle speculation, but it's interesting nonetheless.
 
  • #34
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Now, the memories might not necessarily occur at the time you wake up, it may be that they are created in some lighter stages of sleep, or even at a semi-conscious level. This is only idle speculation, but it's interesting nonetheless.
Well the imaging of the brain during the stages of sleep don't agree with this.

I'll try and dig up what I read on it, but they show where dreaming occurs (the activity levels) and where it doesn't.

During non-rem sleep, there is little in the way of activity. Certainly nothing to back this idea up. To prove it, you'd have to show that memories are being formed, or at least some activity, during these times.
 
  • #35
Ryan_m_b
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Wikipedia has an excellent summary section on the neurobiology of dreaming http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dream#The_Neurobiology_of_dreaming

This isn't an area of science that has gone unstudied! There is a hefty amount of evidence that indicates that we dream in real time, not retrospectively.

I think we are getting further and further from the OPs comments however
 
  • #36
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Wikipedia has an excellent summary section on the neurobiology of dreaming http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dream#The_Neurobiology_of_dreaming

This isn't an area of science that has gone unstudied! There is a hefty amount of evidence that indicates that we dream in real time, not retrospectively.

I think we are getting further and further from the OPs comments however
Agreed. I think we're just trying to "fill in the gaps" and make the idea work now by adding some extra details here and there.
 
  • #37
Pythagorean
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I'm still confused about how we have a neurobiological idea of subjective experience at all, dreaming or not.

NCCs?
 
  • #38
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I'm still confused about how we have a neurobiological idea of subjective experience at all, dreaming or not.

NCCs?
What are you seeing as subjective?

The dreams may be subjective, but the mechanisms behind them can certainly be studied and put into theory.
 
  • #39
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What are you seeing as subjective?

The dreams may be subjective, but the mechanisms behind them can certainly be studied and put into theory.
ignore dreams for a second, and consider all cognitive sciences. Do we really know what mechanisms underlie subjective experience in the first place? We know the functional aspects from a behavioral perspective, but phenomenological studies are only just now (i.e. last 20-30 years) beginning to relate to neural events to phenomenology.

The really fundamental problem is that we don't have a theory of how subjective experience arises from matter. We have been working on the problem more and more in the last decades, and we have learned a lot (like that we're terrible eye-witnesses, and have a 'subjective' idea of time and space) so I'm not saying that it's a completely void topic! In fact, this is it's central question, so once it's been answered and verified, there won't be as much pioneering work to do anymore. Right now, it's in pioneer age.

Of course, we could replace 'subjective' with 'processed' and avoid the phenomenology, but then we're not even asking the same question anymore. The question is more about what information processing principles apply to subjective experience. Is there anything consistent in the dynamics or the neural population for all subjective experiences? Does it go beyond neural dynamics to other signaling processes and cells in the body? Is there something that we can look at a live fMRI of somebody and guess what they're experiencing and when they're experiencing it?

I would criticize Dennet for not having evidence, but I wouldn't claim that we actually have counter-evidence. That seems just as naive as Dennet's claim.

Even if you take a completely functionalist approach, there are still lots of problems and ambiguities with how neural processing actually works in large-scale networks, see:

Marder, E. & Taylor, T.L. (2011) Multiple models to capture the variability in biological neurons and networks, 14(2), 133-138.

The above is a constructive analysis of how (I think) models should be approached when modeling complex biological systems. In fact, since reading this paper, I am obligated to now do this analysis on my own network models.

But this is a fundamentally important statistical concept to any claims made about biological systems.
 
  • #40
Ryan_m_b
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I would criticize Dennet for not having evidence, but I wouldn't claim that we actually have counter-evidence. That seems just as naive as Dennet's claim.
With respect I don't think we need to have a comprehensive idea of how consciousness arises before we can counter Dennet's claim. We know that brainwaves go through cycles, we know from waking patients and observing their behaviour that dreaming happens during specific parts of these cycles, we know that patients can move their body and physically react (talk/walk/scream) in their sleep and later tell us about a dream that matches these observations. I think there is more evidence that dreams are experienced in real time over retrospective memory.
 
  • #41
Pythagorean
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With respect I don't think we need to have a comprehensive idea of how consciousness arises before we can counter Dennet's claim. We know that brainwaves go through cycles, we know from waking patients and observing their behaviour that dreaming happens during specific parts of these cycles, we know that patients can move their body and physically react (talk/walk/scream) in their sleep and later tell us about a dream that matches these observations. I think there is more evidence that dreams are experienced in real time over retrospective memory.
That sounds like good evidence for a special case of dreaming called lucid dreaming. I'm no sleep expert, admittedly, and I've never experienced lucid dreaming, but I didn't think that was the normal kind of dream.

What are normal dreams? I guess I always assumed they were the kind I have: bits and pieces that I spend the first minute of the morning putting together... how much do I implant memories about the dream at that point while trying to make a story out of random, incongruent experiences in the first minute of wakefulness or the transient moment from sleep to wake?

addendum:

another reason I'm skeptical of your claim that we can correlate behavior with subjective experience is that I talk in my sleep but I don't remember my dreams (except for when I'm on a boat, floating in the Bering Sea, then I experience all kinds of vivid dreams for some reason).

Are you claiming that when I don't "remember" dreams, I subjectively experienced a dream, but that I "forgot" about it before I woke up? Or did I ever really experience them? How could you measure that?
 
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  • #42
Ryan_m_b
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addendum:

another reason I'm skeptical of your claim that we can correlate behavior with subjective experience is that I talk in my sleep but I don't remember my dreams (except for when I'm on a boat, floating in the Bering Sea, then I experience all kinds of vivid dreams for some reason).

Are you claiming that when I don't "remember" dreams, I subjectively experienced a dream, but that I "forgot" about it before I woke up? Or did I ever really experience them? How could you measure that?
It's a good point. I don't think we have a conclusive understanding of dreams but I think the evidence points more to a real-time experience over retrospective. I have experienced others talking in their sleep but after immediately waking up having no memory. I have also experienced the opposite where people talk in their sleep and after immediately waking up have matched the talk to something going on in their dreams.

Funnily enough last night I tripped in a dream and woke up because I had kicked my legs out to stop my self falling. Things like this have happened to me many times (once I cut my head open banging it on my wall because in my dream I was trying to duck under a low ceiling) but I've only just thought about how that would indicate real-time dreaming.
 
  • #43
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I saw something on sleep the other day and it spoke about memories being formed.

They discussed people who are woken quickly from certain stages of sleep, for example by a phone call, speak on the phone and then go back to sleep. In the morning, they have no recollection of the phone call.

It's something to do with memories not forming immediately or not having time to be processed before you go back to sleep and so it just never gets committed.

So the idea that memories could form coming out of sleep in such a quick manner (such as when you're suddenly woken and remembering a dream you were just having) seems a bit dubious, given it doesn't happen the other way around. I know it's not conclusive, but it doesn't help the case.

It was an interesting programme, I'll see if I can dig it up.
 
  • #44
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I remember when I was younger, I'd have dreams of falling and I'd wake up as I hit, trying to distribute my weight across the bed. I was taking Tang Soo Do class in which we did falling practice. I'd wake up every time doing some half-atrophied attempt at the proper landing motions. Don't remember much else of a dream, though.

But on the boat when I had vivid dreams, if I wake up from a dream, I'll often try to get the dream back as I go back to sleep, which does imply real-time experience.

How real-time is real-time actually experience? Our eyes exhibit saccades, our visual and audio processing have different time scales, yet we experience a smooth transition from one moment to the next, auditory, visual, and somatic input all synchronized as the information is integrated in the hippocampus (the following paper concludes that the hippocampal binding is indeed tied to the subjective experience, not just an objective binding):

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19786107

Dreaming is what, then? information flow from the hippocampus to the cortex; how does it integrate itself temporally (in a real time manner?) are their similar studies and models as the above on dreams? Is there an "unbinding" problem?
 
  • #45
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I saw something on sleep the other day and it spoke about memories being formed.

They discussed people who are woken quickly from certain stages of sleep, for example by a phone call, speak on the phone and then go back to sleep. In the morning, they have no recollection of the phone call.

It's something to do with memories not forming immediately or not having time to be processed before you go back to sleep and so it just never gets committed.

So the idea that memories could form coming out of sleep in such a quick manner (such as when you're suddenly woken and remembering a dream you were just having) seems a bit dubious, given it doesn't happen the other way around. I know it's not conclusive, but it doesn't help the case.

It was an interesting programme, I'll see if I can dig it up.
That is interesting, especially compared to the research I presented in my last post. If you actually experienced it, but you don't remember it, was the memory not stored in hippocampus? If it wasn't stored in hippocampus, yet you still experienced it, doesn't that threaten the hippocampal binding hypothesis?

Or does your body have an autopilot that doesn't always wake you, can it store procedural memories as slow reflexes? Is that how unconscious sleep-taskers arise, quarky wiring in the autopilot function? I know I can occasionally drive home and not remember the drive. Did I ever experience it? Maybe minimally, as a background, but I was experiencing abstract thoughts, memories, and musings mostly. My autopilot utilized my visual, audio, procedural memory, and got me home safely while I strategized about my to-do list or just wandered off in any random direction of thought.
 
  • #46
Ryan_m_b
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I remember when I was younger, I'd have dreams of falling and I'd wake up as I hit, trying to distribute my weight across the bed. I was taking Tang Soo Do class in which we did falling practice. I'd wake up every time doing some half-atrophied attempt at the proper landing motions. Don't remember much else of a dream, though.

But on the boat when I had vivid dreams, if I wake up from a dream, I'll often try to get the dream back as I go back to sleep, which does imply real-time experience.

How real-time is real-time actually experience? Our eyes exhibit saccades, our visual and audio processing have different time scales, yet we experience a smooth transition from one moment to the next, auditory, visual, and somatic input all synchronized as the information is integrated in the hippocampus (the following paper concludes that the hippocampal binding is indeed tied to the subjective experience, not just an objective binding):

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19786107

Dreaming is what, then? information flow from the hippocampus to the cortex; how does it integrate itself temporally (in a real time manner?) are their similar studies and models as the above on dreams? Is there an "unbinding" problem?
The implication of real time is that the experience is actually happening at the same speed as the bedside clock is ticking. Where the information is coming from (and how hippocampus activity relates to this) is still unknown, clearly the information is not actually coming from the senses. The problem with attempting what the above mentioned paper investigated on dreamers is that the methodology of that paper required people to be awake and looking at objects/pictures. When examining differently presented objects the role of the hippocampus can be partially elucidated but I don't now how that could apply to dreaming.
 
  • #47
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That is interesting, especially compared to the research I presented in my last post. If you actually experienced it, but you don't remember it, was the memory not stored in hippocampus? If it wasn't stored in hippocampus, yet you still experienced it, doesn't that threaten the hippocampal binding hypothesis?

Or does your body have an autopilot that doesn't always wake you, can it store procedural memories as slow reflexes? Is that how unconscious sleep-taskers arise, quarky wiring in the autopilot function? I know I can occasionally drive home and not remember the drive. Did I ever experience it? Maybe minimally, as a background, but I was experiencing abstract thoughts, memories, and musings mostly. My autopilot utilized my visual, audio, procedural memory, and got me home safely while I strategized about my to-do list or just wandered off in any random direction of thought.
It's very interesting, I'm still trying to dig it out. It might have been part of a larger programme.

I only remember that snippet, the basis of it was that there's no time or *something* isn't happening to commit those items to memory.

I've certainly experienced this sort of thing (being woken, doing something minor such as answering the phone and falling back to sleep in the space of a few seconds / minutes).
 
  • #48
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Jared: I helped my dad catch a stray cat that got into our house in my sleep and didn't remember it the next morning. Apparently he chased it into my room, I sat up, he handed me a big tote and grabbed the cat, shoved it in, capped the tote and I passed back out. So it's not like I was running around actively chasing a cat, but still the kind of novelty you'd think you'd remember.

ryan: that's pretty much the point I'm trying to make. We still have a lot of work connecting subjective consciousness to behavior; we still have to rely on reliable reporting. Behavior that occurs during consciousness can occur during unconsciousness if it's already ingrained in implicit procedural memory.

I hope I don't sound fatalistic, I don't think the research is pointless or anything, just that we have to be critical of what the ncc's are since we still don't have a reliable consciousness test or mechanism.

Does C. Elegans have a subjective experience? What about plants and bacteria? How about single-celled eukaryotes?
 
  • #49
disregardthat
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Dreaming is what, then? information flow from the hippocampus to the cortex; how does it integrate itself temporally (in a real time manner?) are their similar studies and models as the above on dreams? Is there an "unbinding" problem?
Not arguing against you here, but how would you imagine sensations which were not temporal? I think there are good reasons for why the dream sensations organize themselves spatially and temporally - we simply cannot experience differently.
 
  • #50
Pythagorean
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Not arguing against you here, but how would you imagine sensations which were not temporal? I think there are good reasons for why the dream sensations organize themselves spatially and temporally - we simply cannot experience differently.
it's not that the sensations aren't temporal, it's that there's (in some cases, I guess) not congruent, chronological story in the first place, just random fragments. In the short seconds waking up is when we force them into a meaningful and continuous picture and possibly implant memories to make them work. And the dreams aren't long either. A series of a couple images, really, but each image is rich with context that can be explained with language so a seemingly long story is interpreted.

Of course, I don't deny that there could be a transitional state between asleep and awake that people experience. I've drifted in and out of vivid dreams before.

Does anyone else experience the fragmented precepts I speak of? I always thought it was the most common kind of dream.
 

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