An Evolutionary Psychology of Sleep and Dreams
Explains an unprecedented application of evolutionary analysis to REM sleep and dreams, showing how evolutionary conflict theory and costly signaling theory can shed new light on old problems and puzzles in the study of sleep and dreams.
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Challenging existing claims concerning the functions of Rapid Eye Movement sleep and the purported meaninglessness of dreams, this text offers a complete and up-to-date survey on the anatomy, physiology, ontogeny, and phylogeny of REM sleep as well as the cognitive neuroscience of dream phenomonolgy and dream content. The text underlines the importance of looking at how REM interacts physiologically with NREM sleep, in order to understand the potential functions of REM. The findings support and extend clams that the functions of REM involve memory consolidation and regulation of emotional conflicts and expression.
Analyses of evolutionary relationships include sleep in reptiles, birds, marsupials, and mammals. Chapters explore interactions of REM and NREM and effects of these interactions on anabolic hormone release as well as the effects on dream content, the effects of genes and genomic imprinting on sleep, and theories of dream formation and content.
- Table of Contents
List of Tables and Figures
REM Biology and Evolutionary Theory
Patterns of REM Expression Across the Lifespan
Phylogeny of Sleep
REM-NREM Signaling in Interactions
REM Sleep and Genetic Conflict
Theories of REM
Phenomenology of REM Dreams
Content of REM Dreams
Theories of REM Dreams
McNamara makes a seminal contribution to both evolutionary psychology and the neuropsychology of sleep and dreams. Drawing upon animal studies, cognitive neuroscience, attachment theory, sleep disorders, content analysis, developmental psychology, memory, emotion, play, narrative, imagery, and metaphor, McNamara portrays dreams as the creative product of an adaptive process that is crucial to the development of both authentic human communication and hard-to-fake emotions, as well as (in all likelihood) human culture in general. During this process REM (rapid eye movement) and non-REM sleep are often antagonistic, yet dreaming can occur in either. McNamara deconstructs many orthodox perspectives, most notably the notion that dream content is a meaningless chance occurrence, while salvaging what is consistent with current data. Destined to become an instant classic, this book reads like a detective story as McNamara explores such puzzles as why unpleasant dreams outnumber pleasant ones. McNamara's own costly signal theory regarding the function of REM sleep (which he saves for the final chapter) is original and articulate; many readers will find it convincing. Highly recommended. Upper-level undergraduates and above.
[I]ntended to explore new approaches to potential functions of REM and REM-related dreaming.
McNamara comes to the difficult issues of dream research with a fresh eye that allows him to take into account all the relevant new findings in both neuropsychology and content analysis, and the result is an original and highly creative synthesis that transcends the tired orthodoxies of the past. Even if his provocative theory does not prove to be the whole answer, his book is a major contribution because it will stimulate new research directions and force everyone to rethink their current assumptions.
McNamara comes to the difficult issues of dream research with a fresh eye that allows him to take into account all the relevant new findings in both neuropsychology and content analysis, and the result is an original and highly creative synthesis that transcends the tired orthodoxies of the past.
CHOICE Outstanding Academic Titles, 2005 —