• Question: What Are Dreams?

    Asked by hyperohan to Yee Whye, Valerie, Nick, Mackenzie, Lin, Jun, Jacob, Brian, Anna on 9 Nov 2019.
    • Photo: Jacob Leygonie

      Jacob Leygonie answered on 9 Nov 2019:

      This is a really hard question. I believe dreams are still a big mystery for science; we have a lot to discover. What do you think are dreams? I would be happy to have opinions on that.

      Some people have funny theories, like the one where humankind is a video game played by some higher order entities. In the way we create situations and people in our dreams, why wouldn’t we be the dreams of others?

      Anyway, I don’t really agree with these twisted reasonings. I don’t have a lot to say about this question, but I wanted to point out that it also fascinates me; especially since we show, during our dreams, so much more imagination than when we are awake.

      Maybe you already know that people can learn to master their dreams. Indeed, by working hard, i.e realising regular practices of meditation, one can enter a phase of “conscious dream”, where one can be awake while dreaming. This is great: you can decide to fly, as a bird, from one place to the other for instance. Also, this is not a gift or anything, it is something one can learn by providing the right amount of effort.

    • Photo: Yee Whye Teh

      Yee Whye Teh answered on 9 Nov 2019:

      Like memories, we don’t really know much about why we dream or what are dreams. However, neuroscientists do have some theories that dreams help us form and strengthen our memories. Some of these theories have even inspired an important early idea in machine learning called a Boltzmann machine!