Very intersting thread...here's some of my own additions
-The science behind dreaming is really cool....it's based on a few theories (which I will try my hardest to remember correctly from Psych class a while ago)....
Anyways, during the daytime (or when you are awake), your nervous/sensory system is constantly feeding your brain sensory input from your surroundings (ie, sight/sound/smell etc). There is a specific part of your brain (we'll call it part X because I forget the name of it...but if I remember it's called the hippocalymus or something like that that starts with an "h"
) that then translates the raw sensory data into meaningful data that you can interpret and understand (ie....unintelligible sensory information recieved from smell receptors, once translated, allows you to notice and identify the smell of a rose).
During the night, your body "shuts down" to repair/replenish its reserves, and so your external sensory systems (sight/smell etc) no longer relay information to your brain (the same way they do while you are awake).
But, your brain becomes very active during deep sleep, and it will begin to send its own
random (relatively random) signals to part X (the part that translates sensory input). The "random" signals can be based on anything that the brain may be "recalling" (that is why dreams are often times so incredibly random or nonsensical)...and there is no real pattern to the data that gets sent to part X.
This is the interesting part---->part X will then translate the random signals
input and therefore the brain will function as if regular sensory input is being sent to it. In other words, your brain switches to nighttime-sensory override, and begins "listening" to whatever thoughts it may be conjuring up and begins treating them like it would treat real/I] sensory input (from your eyes, ears, nose, etc.). Dreams are therefore like a sort of mental "virtual reality", because the brain thinks it's recieving regular input when instead it's just recieving memories and thoughts.
Kinda cool sci-fi idea if you think about it....hmmm.....in the near future....scientists develop a way to externally send signals to part X (haha...I still can't remember what it's called) and therefore discover a way to [I]use our own bodies
as the hardware for virtual reality software....and since our minds would interpret the signals as reality (because the artificial signals would bypass what is
reality)...the interface (our consciousness....with a 1st person perspective similar to HL2
) would already be set, because what we'd think
we're hearing/seeing/smelling/touching would really just be whatever the software is telling our brains to think.
Dreams are also interesting because they make the incredibly illogical
, logical. Have you ever awoken from a horribly terrifying and sweat-inducing nightmare only to realize that being chased by a giant felt-tipped pen isn't
as scary as you thought it was while you were dreaming? Or have you ever awoken after the most amazing and fulfilling dream only to realize that playing on a jungle gym nude, wearing only a pair of skiis isn't
as fun as you thought it was while asleep? (then again...lol)
Some of the craziest, scariest, funniest or most memorable dreams I've had have been based on some of the stupidest and most ridiculous ideas that one could possibly come up with. It's quite a let-down when I wake up sometimes, because the illusory (wonderful) feelings I get while I'm dreaming are almost always smashed to pieces when I awake and think: "sheesh...that was dumb".
But...one thing that I appreciate about dreams is that...while you're still asleep...the silly plot-lines and non-sensical situations work
....in other words, dreams rely on their own logic (and not the logic of external reality).
No matter how stupid being chased by a giant permanent marker may sound in real life...there isn't a single horror movie in the world that can induce the same amount of terror in me that something like that (an evil pen) can induce while I'm asleep! These days, I can watch any horror movie you can throw at me without flinching...yet there are still some times that I wake up from a nightmare, sweating and frightened....and I freakin LOVE that feeling!
Anyways...it's late and I've got to go to bed