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Conscious Cogn. 2011 Dec;20(4):1163-74. doi: 10.1016/j.concog.2011.03.001. Epub 2011 Mar 29.

The neural substrate for dreaming: is it a subsystem of the default network?

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Department of Psychology, University of California, Santa Cruz, CA 95064, USA.


Building on the content, developmental, and neurological evidence that there are numerous parallels between waking cognition and dreaming, this article argues that the likely neural substrate that supports dreaming, which was discovered through converging lesion and neuroimaging studies, may be a subsystem of the waking default network, which is active during mind wandering, daydreaming, and simulation. Support for this hypothesis would strengthen the case for a more general neurocognitive theory of dreaming that starts with established findings and concepts derived from studies of waking cognition and neurocognition. If this theory is correct, then dreaming may be the quintessential cognitive simulation because it is often highly complex, often includes a vivid sensory environment, unfolds over a duration of a few minutes to a half hour, and is usually experienced as real while it is happening.

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