The Mind at Night: The New Science of How and Why We Dream

The Mind at Night: The New Science of How and Why We Dream

by Andrea Rock
     
 
Journalist Rock synthesizes the scientific research of the past two decades into what must be the most common mystery. She explains how the sleeping mind re-runs experience to extract what is important enough to incorporate into long-term memory, concocts the vivid mental productions known as dreams, and performs high-level activity entirely outside of conscious

Overview

Journalist Rock synthesizes the scientific research of the past two decades into what must be the most common mystery. She explains how the sleeping mind re-runs experience to extract what is important enough to incorporate into long-term memory, concocts the vivid mental productions known as dreams, and performs high-level activity entirely outside of conscious awareness. Annotation ©2004 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This exceptionally lucid and engaging work of science writing explicates breakthroughs in the study of the dreaming mind from the 1950s to the present day. Rock, an award-winning medical and science reporter, proves a crisp and thorough storyteller as she portrays the professional tensions among scientific innovators and delineates theoretical controversies (in which the legacy of Freud looms large). She frequently cites interviews with neuroscientists and psychologists, bringing out the drama of their intellectual struggles. Opening with the discovery of the REM phase of sleep by a lowly University of Chicago graduate student, Rock charts the subsequent explosion in dream research: investigations into the roles of different parts of the brain in dreaming; theories of animal dreaming and the evolutionary history of dreaming; the nature of memory; and the neurological relationships among dreaming, mental illness and consciousness itself. Examples of dreams are kept to a relevant minimum, but many statistics of interest are reported. In Rock's concluding chapters, a seamlessly narrated account of a period of sustained scientific focus on the dreaming mind eases into a broader discussion of the function of dreaming in the context of contemporary scientific findings and beliefs. Here Rock discourages simplistic dream-symbol decoding in favor of a more complex approach enlightened by present-day theories. (Mar. 1) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The scientific lowdown on post-Freudian theories of dreams and dreaming. Science journalist Rock begins with Eugene Aserinsky's discovery in the early 1950s that REM (rapid eye motion) sleep is characterized by vivid dreaming. That was the first indication that the sleeping mind was not in some passive state, but was hard at work. Aserinsky's fellow grad student William Dement took the next step, describing the five stages of normal sleep, from relaxed presleep to deep sleep characterized by slow brain waves, during which sleep-walking sometimes occurs. REM episodes occupy a quarter of sleep time, and occur several times a night. During the 1960s, Dement stayed up to monitor thousands of sleeping volunteers, waking them when their eye movements indicated dreaming and asking them what they were experiencing. Animal experiments showed that cats also experience REM, often at the same time going through the motions of hunting. The next generation of dream researchers debated whether Freud's theories that dreams recapitulated childhood trauma were still tenable in the face of evidence that dream images arise from random activity of the brain stem. For one thing, REM sleep evidently occurs in the womb; on the other hand, studies indicate significant differences between juvenile and adult dreams, suggesting that experience does play a part in both the content and complexity of dreams. The brain wants to make sense of whatever it views, organizing the imagery of dreams into coherent stories even when the images themselves appear nonsensical. Some dreamers can recognize that they are dreaming-and even influence the plot and content of their dream. While the biological purpose of dreaming remainscontroversial, the application of new technologies (MRI scans, etc.) is expected to further expand our understanding of one of the mind's most fascinating activities. A well-written, often entertaining look inside the mind. Agent: Michelle Tessler/Carlisle & Co.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780738207551
Publisher:
Basic Books
Publication date:
03/01/2004
Series:
Art of Mentoring Series
Pages:
240
Product dimensions:
6.45(w) x 9.60(h) x 0.80(d)

Meet the Author


Andrea Rock is the recipient of many awards, including the National Magazine Award, the prestigious Investigative Reporters and Editors Award, the Henry Luce citation for outstanding reporting, and the American Academy of Family Physicians Award for outstanding reporting. She lives in Croton-on-Hudson, New York.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >