Simply Scientific: Why do we dream?

Ever dreamed of something so interesting that you wake up thinking “Wow! How did my brain come up with that?” Well, there are a couple of different theories on the origin of dreams.

In 1977,  Harvard psychiatrists J. Allan Hobson and Robert McCarley came up with the Activation-Synthesis Theory. Their theory is that dreaming is the brain’s way of processing information that we gather throughout the day. It chooses what to disregard and what to store in our memories.


When we enter a deep sleep cycle, circuits in our brains become active. The circuits send signals that travel from our spinal cord to the brainstem––which is responsible for our body’s unconscious functions like regulating heart rate and breathing. From there, the signals travel to the middle part of the brain––called the limbic brain––which controls our senses, emotions, and memories. When we sleep, our brain activates this sector and it begins to process information and thoughts. That is how we dream.

Hobson says “Dreaming may be our most creative conscious state.”

In fact, we dream four to 10 times every night. When we enter the Rapid Eye Movement sleep (REM), we dream every 90 to 120 minutes. This deep state of sleep allows us to dream more vividly, which results in us remembering our last dream.

I think we can all agree that dreaming is strange.

Did you know that our brains cannot invent faces? So, every face we see in our dreams, we have actually seen somewhere. What is even crazier is that about 12 per cent of people dream in black and white. Even blind people have the ability to visualize images in their dreams.

However, our daily encounters are not the only causes of dreams. Emotions also have a big part in what we imagine. Trauma, sadness, anxiety, and guilt can lead to nightmares. Women are more likely to have more nightmares than men. Reducing stress in our daily life is said to be the best way to have more positive dreams and better sleep.

Dreaming is fascinating. We can use dreams as a tool to teach us more about ourselves. Yet, even today there are some things that science cannot explain. Could dreams predict the future? I guess only time will tell.


Graphic by @sundaeghost

Music Quickspins

QUICKSPINS: Halsey – Manic

The return of Halsey

We have all heard of Halsey, but her new album Manic unveils her true self as Ashley Frangipane. It has been over two years since the artist released an album, but with an outcome like Manic, it was well worth the wait.

Manic features other artists like Dominic Fike, Alanis Morissette, SUGA and BTS. Also, despite being an alternative album, it has a nice mix of soft rock, indie pop, and pop.

The lyrics for the song “Graveyard” speak of “when we get to know a lover, and conveys the feeling of vulnerability and darkness.”

“Dominic’s Interlude,” featuring Dominic Fike, is an indie-pop song that has an edgy style with lyrics that speak powerful messages, while the catchy pop song “Still Learning” shows how Halsey decided to put herself first, accept her mistakes, and love herself.

The album takes you on an emotional rollercoaster. After Halsey deals with bipolar disorder, past toxic relationships, and other personal struggles, she bares her soul on Manic. The album is relatable, and may even be too intense for some people to listen to. Overall, Manic is an empowering album that could inspire anyone who listens to it.

Rating: 9/10

Trial Track: “Still Learning”


Simply Scientific: Work smarter, not harder

Is there something you want to accomplish? Something you desperately want to do but cannot seem to achieve?

We have all been in that funk before. The best way to overcome that is a change in outlook. Develop a goal-oriented mindset—it is that simple! Lucky for us, our brain is programmed to love a good challenge, because we get rewarded by a hormone in the brain called dopamine.

The mesolimbic pathway in the brain carries dopamine to different parts of the brain, including the frontal lobe––the sector responsible for motivation. To the brain, achieving a goal is considered an extrinsic reward. Say you did not like doing something, but you still pushed through to accomplish it. That reward of completion brings a sense of satisfaction to the brain through the rush of dopamine you get when completing a task.

When dopamine is released, the body releases cortisol and oxytocin which reduces stress. The body also releases serotonin which is the brain’s happy chemical. So goal setting and achieving those goals are very good for the body.

We get it, set goals! But how can we do that? The trick to obtaining a goal-oriented mindset is breaking down goals to make them more manageable. We need to set our goals “SMARTER.” Dr. Edwin A. Locke, a specialist in motivation with a Ph.D in psychology, invented the SMART acronym rule, which was examined and extended over time. Now, think about your goal and apply these SMARTER principles.

Specific: you need to focus on only one particular goal.

Measurable: you need to monitor your progress qualitatively or quantitatively.

Achievable: set flexible boundaries that suit you.

Realistic: is it something that you actually can do?

Time: give yourself a time frame to accomplish your goal.

Evaluative: does your goal fall into your personal values?

Rewarding: you obtain your goal and dopamine gives your brain its reward.

Nothing is impossible. Sometimes you just need to take a step back and look at your goals in a different way. So, go out and challenge yourself. You might be surprised at the things you can do.


Graphic by @sundaeghost



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