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Psychol Sci. 2005 Feb;16(2):130-6.

A "Jekyll and Hyde" within: aggressive versus friendly interactions in REM and non-REM dreams.

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1
Department of Neurology, Boston University School of Medicine, and Veterans Administration Boston Healthcare System, Boston, MA, USA. mcnamar@bu.edu

Abstract

We hypothesized that representations of social interactions in REM and non-REM (NREM) dreams would reflect differing regional brain activation patterns associated with the two sleep states, and that levels of aggressive interactions would be higher in REM than in NREM dreams. One hundred REM, 100 NREM, and 100 wake reports were collected in the home from 8 men and 7 women using the Nightcap sleep-wake mentation-monitoring system and scored for number and variety of social interactions. We found that (a) social interactions were more likely to be depicted in dream than in wake reports, (b) aggressive social interactions were more characteristic of REM than NREM or wake reports, and (c) dreamer-initiated friendliness was more characteristic of NREM than REM reports. We conclude that processing of, or simulations about, selected social interactions is preferentially performed while "off-line" during the dream state, with the REM state specializing in simulation of aggressive interactions and the NREM state specializing in simulation of friendly interactions.

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