This is Your Brain on Dreams, with Michio Kaku
Theoretical physicist, best-selling author, and all around cool guy Michio Kaku returns to Big Think to discuss the science of dreaming, as well as everything Freud got right about our subconscious.
When we slip into sleep and embark on a subconscious journey through our dreams, what exactly is our brain up to? Theoretical physicist, best-selling author, and all around cool guy Michio Kaku returns to Big Think to discuss the science of dreaming, as well as everything Freud got right about our subconscious:
Kaku's most recent best-seller, The Future of the Mind, places its focus on how science explores consciousness. In the interview above, he begins with a discussion of Freud, who Kaku believes may not have been "totally wrong":
"There are many textbooks which simply dismiss Freudian psychology calling it nuts. That is nothing but the sexual fantasies of a repressed [Viennese] scientist of the last century. But now we realize there’s more to it. First of all the unconscious mind. We can actually see the brain in motion and we realize that much of the activity is totally unconscious. Just like what Freud predicted."
Not only was Freud right about unconscious activity, Kaku also mention that neuroscientists utilizing brain scans can identify parts of the brain that correspond with ego, the id, and superego:
"The ego is basically your prefrontal cortex. That is who you are. When you wonder where am I anyway. Well, you’re right there. You are sitting right behind your forehead. And then your desires. We see the pleasure center right there at the center of the brain. That is the libido. We see where the pleasure center is located. And then your conscience is right behind your eyes. The orbital frontal cortex right behind your eyes is where your conscience is. And so we actually see that in motion."
And then, on to dreaming. Like his unique brand of psychology, Freud's work on dreams has been largely dismissed by modern scientists. Kaku notes that brain scans again are able to track the status of your control center while you sleep:
"We realize that it comes at the back of the brain, the very primitive part of the brain and that certain parts of the brain are shut off when you dream. First of all your prefrontal cortex is basically shut off, it’s quiet. Your orbital frontal cortex that is your conscience is also shut off. But that part of the brain is your fact checker. The part of the brain that said, 'Hmmm, that’s not right. Something’s wrong' is right behind your eyes. That’s shut off.
What is active when you dream is your amygdala. Now what does your amygdala govern? Fear and emotions."
So basically, your brain's fact checker rests while its emotional daredevil keeps roaring. Even though your rational brain goes dormant, there are still methods to breaking through the state of analytical paralysis. Experiments at the Max Planck Institute in Germany have revealed that controlling the direction of your dreams -- a phenomenon often called lucid dreaming -- is testable, reproducible, and totally legitimate. The ability to direct one's own dreams (and perhaps the dreams of others à la Inception) could become a major focus of near-future neuroscientific research:
"One day we may be able to brain scan the brain as you dream and put it on a screen. In which case somebody will be able to see you dream and know the direction of the dream and you are conscious of the process."
Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.
Air pollution is up to five times over the EU limit in these Central London hotspots.
- Dirty air is an invisible killer, but an effective one.
- More than 9,000 people die prematurely in London each year due to air pollution, a recent study estimates.
- This map visualizes the worst places to breathe in Central London.
Meanwhile, Spaniards are the least likely to say their culture is superior to others.
- Survey by Pew Research Center shows great variation in chauvinism across Europe.
- Eight most chauvinist countries are in the east, and include Russia.
It works better than other memorization techniques.
- Drawing something that you want to remember is more effective than using other memory techniques
- For older people with dementia or Alzheimer's, drawing stores memories in still-intact regions of the brain
- Even if you're terrible at drawing, it's the neurological underpinnings that make it worth a try
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.