Why do we sleep? Why do we dream? How does the brain turn a collection of new experiences into memories, dreams, and creative thoughts?
After synthesizing much of what is known about the neurobiological basis of memory and dreaming, Memory and Dreams: The Creative Human Mind offers new interpretations of how memories are formed, the nature of creativity, the purpose of dream sleep, and, in its most original section, the causes of SIDS.
Memory is represented in the brain by specific neural firing patterns that share common neurons and connections. Mathematical models therefore suggest that the brain can generate its own set of “spurious memories” by combining various features of stored memories. George Christos suggests that these spurious memories represent the basis for creativity.
The function of dreaming in humans and almost all other mammals is one of the great unsolved biological mysteries. Christos argues that we dream in order to process recently acquired memories, to forget unimportant memories, and to generate more creative states. By organizing our memories, dreaming allows us to be more predisposed for learning the next day.
The last section of the book deals with one of the most puzzling and heartbreaking problems in medical science, SIDS. Christos posits that infants, through dreaming, may trigger fetal breathing pathways and stop breathing without any alarms going off. In other words, SIDS has no physical cause; the cause is in the mind of the infant, who “dreams” it is back in the safety of its mother’s womb—a state in which it does not breathe. Christos asserts that this is the only theory that explains the causes as well as the trigger mechanisms of SIDS and is consistent with all of the known facts. The book concludes with a list of suggested preventative measures derived from this provocative theory.