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Conscious Cogn. 2001 Mar;10(1):26-41.

Consciousness during dreams.

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Department of Psychology, University of Bologna, Viale Berti Pichat, 5, 40127 Bologna, Italy.


Two aspects of consciousness are first considered: consciousness as awareness (phenomenological meaning) and consciousness as strategic control (functional meaning). As to awareness, three types can be distinguished: first, awareness as the phenomenal experiences of objects and events; second, awareness as meta-awareness, i.e., the awareness of mental life itself; third, awareness as self-awareness, i.e., the awareness of being oneself. While phenomenal experience and self-awareness are usually present during dreaming (even if many modifications are possible), meta-awareness is usually absent (apart from some particular experiences of self-reflectiveness) with the major exception of lucid dreaming. Consciousness as strategic control may also be present in dreams. The functioning of consciousness is then analyzed, following a cognitive model of dream production. In such a model, the dream is supposed to be the product of the interaction of three components: (a) the bottom-up activation of mnemonic elements coming from LTM systems, (b) interpretative and elaborative top-down processes, and (c) monitoring of phenomenal experience. A feedback circulation is activated among the components, where the top-down interpretative organization and the conscious monitoring of the oneiric scene elicitates other mnemonic contents, according to the requirements of the dream plot. This dream productive activity is submitted to unconscious and conscious processes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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