Rapid eye movements (REMs) during sleep may contribute to the visual part of our dreams by acting as a switch from image to image, researchers have found. The study, which measured the activity of individual cells in the brain in both awake and sleeping participants, is important because it is the first of its kind and provides a great starting point for uncovering the deeper secrets of human consciousness.
Consciousness can roughly be summed up as our awareness of the environment and our ability to respond to it. However, Sigmund Freud and his followers have described dreams as deep-seated, unconscious psychic desires. Today, many instead see them as an interpretation of images of the environment stored in certain parts of the brain. These images are thought to be projected onto the visual cortex so we can “see them” in our dreams.