Why Do We Forget Our Dreams?
I distilled my findings and research about dreams to the following list:
• It is during REM (rapid eye movement) sleep that we tend to do most of our dreaming, as this is when our brain activity increases.
• During REM sleep, a specific group of neurons from the melanin-concentrating hormone (MCH) are produced and activated.
• These neurons help regulate both sleep and appetite.
• REM sleep may be a period when our brain ‘actively forgets’ in order to avoid information overload.
• In a research study involving mice, Thomas Kilduff, Ph.D. (director of the Center for Neuroscience at the SRI International research institute in Menlo Park, CA) and Akihiro Yamanaka, Ph.D. (from Nagoya University, Japan) led a team that determined that MCH-producing neurons send inhibitory messages to the hippocampus. Given that the hippocampus is key for learning and memory, the scientists wondered whether these neurons had “a say” in preserving memories.
• Our brains tend to forget dreams that our unconsciousness registers as irrelevant or unimportant.
• However, we may experience certain dreams that we can recall in the morning if our unconsciousness perceives them as important or valuable. Such remembered dreams probably stimulate our dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), which is part of our brain that aids memory.