Saturday, June 25, 2011

Memories of abductions - only a dream?

Some abductees recall having experiences during the night, but find difficulty in being able to say whether their recollections are dreams or real events. Some recent scientific research may be able to assist.

How memories of dreams are made:

In the 7 May 2011 issue of the "New Scientist" magazine (page 16) there is an article titled "How memory of dreams are made," by Andy Coghlan. The article reads:

"Why do we remember some dreams but not others? It's because the brain mechanism that controls whether we remember or forget things when we are awake is involved.

"So says Luigi De Gennaro at the University of Rome, Italy, and his team, who used an electroencephalogram (EEG) to monitor the brain activity of students as they slept. The team monitored 65 students; 30 who habitually wake up while in rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and 35 who usually wake up in stage 2 non-REM sleep. About two thirds of both groups recalled dreams during the study.

"Those who wake during REM sleep and successfully recalled their dreams were more likely to demonstrate a pattern of EEG oscillations called theta waves in frontal and prefrontal cortex areas-the parts of the brain where our most advanced thinking occurs. "The kind of EEG oscillations and the cortical region involved are the same as those important for recalling memory in awake subjects," says De Gennaro.

"In non-REM wakers, those who remembered their dreams had patterns of alpha wave activity in the right temporal lobe - involved in recognising emotional events - that resembled activity known to be key for recall while awake. (Journal of Neuroscience, DOI:10.1523/jneurosci.0412-11-2011.)

"The upshot is that even when we are asleep, the same parts of the brain are on the alert for things to remember. These are often events that are emotionally charged, and that the brain deems important, whether we are awake or not.

"De Gennaro says the results are the first evidence that the physiology by which memories are stored is the same whether we are awake or asleep. "These findings are similar to known EEG patterns in wakeful memory recollection, suggesting a continuum of cerebral processes throughout the sleep-wake cycle," says Michael Czisch, who studies sleep at the Max Planck Institute of psychiatry in Munich, Germany.

My comments:

This is a very interesting article.

In my own work with Australian experiencers who report nocturnal abductions, I like to ask them these couple of questions. One is, what time did you fall asleep the night of the abduction? Do you know what time the abduction event occurred? With the latter question, some people did check their bedside clock, others do not know.

If they do know both times, then I do a calculation to determine the time interval between going to bed (rough time of falling asleep) and the event. We know that we cycle through the stages of sleep at roughly ninety minute intervals. So if we fall asleep at say 11pm and the event happens at 2am, then the time interval is 3 hours or roughly two sleep cycles, and we are likely to be in REM (rapid eye movement) or dream sleep at 2am.

If you are in REM sleep at the time of the event then it is possible that the event is a dream.

1 comment:

  1. I studied psychology at university and remain fascinated by studies like these. In part, this was inspired by a history of incidents I can now identify as sleep paralysis and hypnogogia. In the past year, I've been woken by loud noises and voices that suggest 'exploding head syndrome.' Yep, even minor nosebleeds...

    These experiences make more sense because I've read the studies rather than getting advice from abduction researchers or paranormal websites.

    Despite the wealth of academic knowledge at our disposal, such experiences still allow for speculations about alternative scenarios. For people without awareness of the studies, it's inevitable that many will create elaborate supernatural explanations for what is, usually, nothing more than base physiology at work. The mind never sleeps.

    The study seeks to explain why some elements of dreams are retained into our long-term memories and succeeds on an objective level. At the same time, subjectively, some dream episodes subtly alter our experience of reality and generate questions with intangible answers.

    I remain fascinated by the possibilities.

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