Feeds

Can blind people see in their dreams?

And can people have the same dream at the same time?

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Also in this week's column:

Can blind people see in their dreams?

Asked by Cindy Webster of Palmerston North, New Zealand

Most researchers believe that people who are blind from birth or who become blind in infancy do not see in their dreams. They do not retain visual imagery because it was never acquired in the first place.

However, those blinded in childhood, adolescence, young adulthood, or afterwards usually do see in their dreams. "They often retain visual imagery in their waking life and in their dreams," according to Drs Nancy Kerr of the Department of Psychology at Oglethorpe University and G. William Domhoff of the Department of Psychology at the University of California at Santa Cruz.

They write in the December 2004 issue of Dreaming that "individuals blinded before the age of about five report no visual imagery in dreams as adults, whereas those blinded after about the age of seven are likely to retain visual imagery in dreaming".

This conclusion is based upon four sleep laboratory studies conducted between 1966 and 1999. According to the Royal National Institute of the Blind in London: "Dreams are experienced in the same way as life is lived. If someone loses their sight, they will dream of events during the days when sight was available in visual terms. If dreams are about recent events when sight was not used, sensations will be in terms of sound, smell, texture, and so on." A person dreams as they live.

Can people have the same dream at the same time?

It is called simultaneous dreaming. This occurs when two or more people have the same dream. The dream need not occur at the same time to qualify as a simultaneous dream. But sometimes this happens too. There are no scientific studies of simultaneous dreaming.

However, there are a few anecdotal reports of simultaneous dreaming on the internet. It is usually mentioned in relationship to lucid dreaming. Lucid dreaming is the conscious perception of one's state while dreaming with the intended effect of having clearer dreams and to be able to control, focus, and utilise dreams to improve one's life.

Are humans the only animals that dream?

Besides humans, other animals probably dream too. According to Dr Allan Hobson, a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, writing in the August 2003 issue of Discover: "Although it cannot be proved, it is reasonable to suppose that many animals see, hear, feel, and run in their sleep just as we do."

Most researchers agree that brain activity during dreaming functions to help keep body temperature stable during sleep. Body temperature stability during sleep is also necessary in mammals besides humans. There is also evidence that dreaming helps solidify memories. This would have a survival advantage in both humans and non-human animals. For these and other reasons, Dr Hobson concludes that it is logical to conclude that at least some animals probably do dream. Too bad they cannot tell us and remove all doubt. Perhaps they might some day? Dream on!

Stephen Juan, Ph.D. is an anthropologist at the University of Sydney. Email your Odd Body questions to s.juan@edfac.usyd.edu.au

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Boffins who stare at goats: I do believe they’re SHRINKING
Alpine chamois being squashed by global warming
What's that STINK? Rosetta probe shoves nose under comet's tail
Rotten eggs, horse dung and almonds – yuck
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
Kip Thorne explains how he created the black hole for Interstellar
Movie special effects project spawns academic papers on gravitational lensing
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
LONG ARM of the SAUR: Brachially gifted dino bone conundrum solved
Deinocheirus mirificus was a bit of a knuckle dragger
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.