Google recently released a computer program that may help understand various aspects of visual imagination in dreaming. Check out these images in their “Inceptionism Gallery” here. The main discussion of the program is from a June 17 post on the Google Research Blog, here. Other images can be found at the Twitter hashtag #deepdream.
I talk in more detail about Google’s project and its relevance for dream research in a Psychology Today blog post here.
The Huffington Post recently published an interview I did with Arianna Huffington about dream incubation. She has a long-standing interest in sleep and dreams, along with spiritual curiosity and an appreciation for scientific research–a perfect audience for what I’ve been working on over the past couple of years. What I told her about dream incubation comes from chapter 15 of the book Big Dreams: The Science of Dreaming and the Origins of Religion (Oxford U. Press), due out in early 2016. That’s the next-to-last chapter of the book, which starts with a section on the evolution of sleep, laying a scientific foundation for understanding how dreams have emerged in the human species. The second section looks at empirical patterns in ordinary dream recall and content, drawing on research from the Sleep and Dream Database (SDDb). The third section focuses on “big dreams,” i.e. rare but extremely vivid and memorable dreams that make a long-lasting impression on waking awareness. I discuss scientific research on four prototypes of big dreaming that recur especially frequently, throughout history and in cultures all around the world: aggressive, sexual, gravitational, and mystical. Finally, in the fourth section, I use this information about big dreams to shed new light on several kinds of religious experience found in many different traditions: demonic seduction, prophetic vision, ritual healing, and contemplative practice. Dream incubation appears in the chapter on ritual healing, with lots of discussion of the Roman orator Aelius Aristides in the 2nd century CE, who wrote about his dream incubation experiences at a temple of the ancient Greek healing god Asclepius.