Monday, February 27, 2012

the function of dreaming in the cycles of cognition

biogeneticstructuralism | In summary then, biogenetic structural theory holds (with Roffwarg et al. 1966, Robson 1988, and others) that the function of dreaming is essentially developmental. We have seen that the primary task of the higher brain centers is to construct a cognized environment from the nascent, neurognostic structures of the pre- and perinatal nervous system. The cognized environment is a vast system of models pertaining to the "real world," or operational environment, including him or herself as an organism. These models may be entrained to conscious network to produce our moment-by-moment flow of experience. The models mediating experience operate within the field of associations entrained in the dialogue between the prefrontal intentional processes and the sensorial processes, and become routinized in organization (form creodes) within cyclically recurring patterns of entrainment. These gross and recurring patterns of entrainment are recognized by their recurrent attributes, and are usually cognized as rucurrent by the individual, generally during enculturation by his or her society, and are experienced as phases of consciousness. Because our species has evolved as a diurnal primate phases of consciousness tend to take on a daily, or circadian rhythm of recurrence that alternates between those specialized to encounter and cognize events in the outer operational environment (we call these "being awake" in our culture) and those specialized to establish a transformative, reorganizational and homeomorphogenic interaction between models and other somatic processes (we call this "being asleep" in our culture).

Although the biological functions of sleep are manifold (Hobson 1988), the function of dreaming itself may be seen as the symbolic fulfilment or evocation within the sensorium of transformative processes occurring in the main outside the bounds of conscious network. The feedback relations (homeomorphogenesis) between the symbolic play of dreaming and extra-sensorial somatic processes is potentially a reciprocal one. But just how passive or active conscious network will be in intending the sensorial play will vary from dream to dream, from individual to individual, and from society to society.

The extent of awareness within dream phases varies enormously, and is the single most important variable in determining both (1) understanding in and of the dream, (2) and the locus of control of dream content. If awareness is hypointentional (weak involvement of prefrontal processes in conscious network), then the locus of control of dream experiences will lay with somatic processes largely outside the boundaries of conscious network. On the other extreme, if awareness is intentional (within the "normal" range of waking involvement of prefrontal processes in the conscious network mediating dreaming), then control of the dream experience may (but not necessarily) shift to conscious network. And, of course, entrainments mediating dreaming may range on a continuum of prefrontal involvement between these extremes.

In other words, hypointentional entrainment in a dream phase will produce little awareness, and the content may be relatively dull, unclear, confusing, perhaps producing little cross-phase influence or memory in a subsequent phase of consciousness. Increased intentionality will tend to produce the opposite experience, characterized by vividness of sensory content, active awareness of theme and continuity, lucidity (i.e., awareness of dreaming while within the dream), comprehension of meaning and perhaps active involvement of the "dream ego" in controlling the the dream content. Hyperintentionality (intense involvement of prefrontal processes) during dreaming may, for example, lead to the portalling experience (MacDonald, Cove, Laughlin and McManus 1989) in which intense concentration upon some element of a scene produces a "doorway" that "opens up" into an entirely different scene, a very common experience among meditators and dream yogis. Under hyperintentional entrainment, the dream ego ceases to be a passive point of view in the dream and becomes an active, questing locus of control (see Hillman 1987, LaBerge 1981) that may facilitate the capacity for advanced exploration of one's own unconscious processes (Malamud 1979).

The role of culture is enormous in preparing the individual to participate in and interpret experiences in multiple phases of consciousness (see e.g., Eggan 1955 on the Hopi). We have suggested that cultures may lie on a continuum from those tending to produce a monophasic orientation toward alternative phases to those that encourage transcendental exploration via alternative phases. Materialistic cultures tend to enculturate monophasic egos; that is, self-concepts informed primarily from memories accrued during waking phases of consciousness. Even when dream phases are not ignored as a source of experience, dreams are considered more like symbolic puzzles that must be decoded in terms comprehensible to the waking ego, than as experiences that are meaningful in their own right (James Hillman 1979). By contrast, more spiritually inclined cultures tend to enculturate polyphasic egos; i.e., those characterized by self-concepts informed from a variety of alternative phases of consciousness, including dream phases. In cultures that have developed advanced dream exploration as a means of verifying and vivifying their cosmology, experiences in the dream phase are meaningful to a polyphasic ego from within the dream itself, and may not require later interpretation in the waking phase for comprehension and integration into the ego complex.


Uglyblackjohn said...

I learned how to dream 'better' after watching my young cousins play video games.
The save points seemed like nice spots to make corrections in my dreams to work towards a better outcome.