You never dream? Find out why

Dreaming of love, work, animals, nature… certain symbols of our dream universe can be revealing. With Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, dream interpretation became a tool to theorize and explore our unconscious. During this nocturnal disposition of the mind, our brain constructs a virtual world of striking images and sensations which we do not immediately identify as hallucinations. But if some sleepers “live their dreams” in particular by talking, moving, shouting or even crying, others, on the contrary, pretend they never dream.

This phenomenon, which concerns about 3% of the population, would however only be a Received idea. Because everyone plunges into the land of dreams when they fall when the arms of Morpheus. To explain this received idea, Pr. Isabelle Arnulf, neurologist and director of sleep pathologies at the Pitié-Salpêtrière hospital has long studied sleep disorders. Near the Brain Institute (ICM)she demonstrates why this assertion is false, and details her assumptions that these “non-dreamers” describe themselves as such.

Memory problems?

The first hypothesis that would explain this phenomenon points memory problems. To verify this theory, researchers from the Paris Brain Institute subjected the patients concerned to a battery of cognitive tests involving an evaluation of memory. They eventually found that the participants “had the same level of memory and the same cognitive profile as people who remember their dreams”. This hypothesis was therefore discarded.

Eventually their dreams are not engraved

The most probable cause of these amnesias upon waking has finally been brought to light. In these populations, dreams are not etched in memory overnight. “The next step is to compare the brain activity of ‘non-dreamers’ to that of ‘dreamers’ using functional brain imaging. This study could help to understand what happens in the brain during dreams and how the latter is engraved in memory. Another study would consist in knowing if the dreams are well engraved (encoded) but not recalled: by giving to the “non-dreamers” clues about their dream thanks to video recordings (a word, a situation), in order to establish if it helps them to remember”.

In the end, we are all equal in the face of dreams. The complexity lies in the way dreams are collected and stored by their brain, without altering memory, concludes the ICM.

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You never dream? Find out why

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