Tag Archive: brain



Researchers say that the blockbuster movie Inception is not a complete Hollywood fantasy.

Even tough the word definition of dream is something like “a series of mental images and emotions occurring during sleep” the actual scientific definition is still a matter of much debate. A few people will define it as a REM (rapid eye movement) sleep experience which actually the research doesn’t support. There are some interesting things going on in the brain during REM. REM is generally the only time during sleep that most of the cortex is pretty much as active as it is when we’re awake. The rhythmic brain stem activity during this phase wakes the cortex up and then cortex carries out some ordered and meaningful functions. This gives the impression that one is dreaming.

During dreams there are certain regions which are otherwise inactive or little activate, now in an activated or hyperactivated state. The reverse is also true.  Scientists say that we can use dreams to solve a problem. Here is how it works (but not always):

f you want to problem-solve in a dream, you should first of all think of the problem before bed, and if it lends itself to an image, hold it in your mind and let it be the last thing in your mind before falling asleep. For extra credit assemble something on your bedside table that makes an image of the problem. If it’s a personal problem, it might be the person you have the conflict with. If you’re an artist, it might be a blank canvas. If you’re a scientist, the device you’re working on that’s half assembled or a mathematical proof you’ve been writing through versions of.

Equally important, don’t jump out of bed when you wake up—almost half of dream content is lost if you get distracted. Lie there, don’t do anything else. If you don’t recall a dream immediately, see if you feel a particular emotion—the whole dream would come flooding back.

Studies also reveals that lucid dreaming– dreaming that we are dreaming, can also be enhanced by practice. By reminding yourself you want to just as you’re falling asleep, either as a verbal statement or idea: “Tonight when I dream, I want to realize I’m dreaming.” This is the most important thing, the researchers say other than getting enough sleep.

There are evidences that suggest even one can control the dream of other person, but the extend of which is still unknown.

The study of sleep and dreams combines the knowledge of biology and psychology. Through a combination of these fields, researches are going on in various parts of the world to unlock some of the biggest mysteries of human mind.

References:

1. Scientific American July 29, 2010

2. Wikipedia

3. Some more websites

Faulty Connections


Human Brain is like an electrical circuit. It can sometimes work wrongly

In any medical sciences, the doctors have historically tried to gain more information about the cause of his or her patient’s illness to prescribe them some form of medication. But when it came to illness like mental and behavioral disorders, the doctors could not find any strong cause for the disorder. Therefor they classified these as just “Mental problems”. But with the advent of the modern biology, neuroscience and genomics, much of the century -old perception of these as psychological disorders is coming to a new turn.

Advancements in the field of neuroscience have shown that all these otherwise called mental problems have a strong biological cause. For example, autism is related to the disordered connections between the neurons in the brain. In recent years huge amount of investments have been put into the field of neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinson’s Disease.  Even though more and more information are generated about these disorders worldwide, the public and scientific community could not tell much on disorders like depression, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder,and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The biological connection or cause of these disorders were hard to pin point because there were no physical destruction of cells visible in the brain of these patients.

Neuroimaging has helped a lot to reveal the biological cause of these disorders. Brian is like an electrical circuit with innumerable connections. The nerve cells, with which the brain is made fires upon its stimulation. These are tightly controlled and too much or too low or too fast ot too slow firing can lead to serious medical conditions,  The above mentioned disorders are now considered to be caused because of the inappropriate functioning of parts of this electric circuit that normally are well synchronized.

Each disorder has a characteristic “electrical circuit” or connections. This picture is slowly emerging now, thanks to the great works of neurobiologists,geneticist and modern biologists.

(For detailed information please see the Scientific American-India April 2010)