The Nature of Consciousness

Piero Scaruffi

(Copyright © 2013 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions )
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These are excerpts and elaborations from my book "The Nature of Consciousness"

NREM Sleep

The South African psychiatrist Mark Solms argued that the identification of dreaming and REM is incorrect, because, he believes, dreaming is possible without REM (Non-REM dreaming or NREM dreaming). He also claimed to have located the origins of dreaming in the ventral tegmental area of the midbrain, and not in the pons (as Jouvet and Hobson believed). Therefore Solms argued that the dopaminergic system (the one originating in the ventral tegmental area) is the neurochemical basis for dreaming.

Hobson believed that dreaming has its origins in the same region of the pons that generates REM sleep. Solms believes that only REM originates in the pons, i.e. that dreams and REM are physically controlled by two different regions of the brain.

The Canadian psychiatrist Jie Zhang argued that dreaming and REM sleep must be controlled by different parts of the brain (“Memory process and the function of sleep”, 2004).  The two kinds of sleep serve two different purposes. The day’s memory are stored in a temporary memory. This working memory consists of two subsidiary systems: the conscious and the non-conscious subsidiary systems. NREM sleep is for processing the declarative (conscious) memory, and REM sleep is for processing the procedural (nonconscious) memory. When the unconscious procedural memory is transferred from the temporary memory to the long-term memory during REM sleep, the conscious declarative memory enters Hobson’s "continual-activation" mode to interpret the memory stream. Dreaming is only an epiphenomenon of the conscious subsidiary system of working memory.

Traditionally, dreaming has been identified with rapid eye-movement (REM) sleep which corresponds to high-frequency electroencephalographic activity similar to waking activity. However, Francesca Siclari has shown that we dream during about 70% of our non-REM sleep (characterized by low-frequency activity) in addition to 95% of our REM sleep ("The neural correlates of dreaming", 2017). Siclari found that in both NREM and REM sleep dreams are associated with activity in posterior cortical regions, suggesting that these regions may constitute the neural correlate of dreams.


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