Saturday, March 24, 2012

Day 14: Our Dreams and a More Immediate "Fix"

To sleep, perchance to dream...then create.

It's interesting to consider that we chase our dreams while awake. Yet many people also somehow lose a dream in embracing reality, even though it's possible to live our dreams through writing.

On a more practical note: Researchers often tout dreaming as a boost for creativity. So, let's talk about rapid eye movement (REM). Specifically, consider the findings of a 2009 study on REM sleep and its ability to help with new creative problems, from a press release at health/06-09Mednick.asp. The study by Sara Mednick, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of California-San Diego and the VA San Diego Healthcare System, and first author Denise Cai, a graduate student (at that time) in the UC-San Diego psychology department, found that REM directly enhances creative processing more than any other sleeping or wake state.

Although time helps in solving ongoing problems, REM dreaming forms new connections from unrelated associations for a more immediate fix.
"Mednick said that it appears REM sleep helps achieve such solutions by stimulating associative networks, allowing the brain to make new and useful associations between unrelated ideas. Importantly, the study showed that these improvements are not due to selective memory enhancements."
This differs from the daydreaming mentioned in Day 14's post. For instance, if you are contemplating how to move a plot forward, get a good night's sleep. If you are tempted to completely overhaul a book, a poem or a research paper, start with a little daydreaming and then map out your solution. Or, once again, determine a system that works best for you.

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