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NOVA: What Are Dreams?

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

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.

Rat maze in Matt Wilson's lab at MIT.
Enlarge this image

Above: Rat maze in Matt Wilson's lab at MIT.

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?

Video

Preview: NOVA: What Are Dreams?

Above: 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.

Comments

Avatar for user 'paulaludwick'

paulaludwick | June 29, 2011 at 7:37 p.m. ― 3 years, 6 months ago

I have a question. What happens if you no longer have any recall of your dreams. This began for me almost 8 yrs ago. I was having intrusive thoughts day and night about places I had been visiting for work, but was no longer working in these places. I prayed to have these thoughts and dreams removed. That same night, my ability to recall any dreams stopped. In eight years, nothing but a few waking images. Before that, I had had a very vivid dream life, and miss the insights gained from some of my dreams. Is there a name for this lack of recall of dreams? Since that time, I'm much more careful what I pray for. I have always had difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep. I have also noted a gradual loss of memory as well. I hate to think this is another sign of aging, as I am 57, but would like to know if any of this is related to Alzheimer's, early onset, possibly.

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