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NOVA: What Are Dreams?

Airs Wednesday, June 29, 2011 at 9 p.m. on KPBS TV

Credit: Sophie Wallace-Hadrill ©BBC

Above: "NOVA" joins the leading dream researchers and witnesses the extraordinary experiments they use to investigate the world of sleep. Pictured: Prof. Robert (Bob) Stickgold of Harvard Medical School, who researches how dreams can improve learning.

What are dreams and why do we have them? In "What Are Dreams?" NOVA joins leading dream researchers as they embark on a variety of neurological and psychological experiments to investigate the world of sleep and dreams.

The Sleep-Memory Connection

In this interactive feature, you can explore the stages of a good night's sleep and the research linking sleep to memory.

Delving deep into the thoughts and brains of a variety of dreamers, scientists are asking important questions about the purpose of this mysterious realm we escape to at night. Do dreams allow us to get a good night's sleep? Do they improve memory? Do they allow us to be more creative? Can they solve our problems or even help us survive the hazards of everyday life?

NOVA follows a number of scientists, including Matthew Wilson of MIT, who is literally "eavesdropping" on the dreams of rats, and other investigators who are systematically analyzing the content of thousands of human dreams.

From people who violently act out their dreams to those who can't stop their nightmares, from sleepwalking cats to the rare instances of individuals who don't seem to ever dream, each fascinating case study contains a vital clue to the age-old question: What Are Dreams?

Preview: NOVA: What Are Dreams?

What are dreams and why do we have them? NOVA joins leading dream researchers as they embark on a variety of neurological and psychological experiments to investigate the world of sleep and dreams.

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