My Little Friend:



Igloo In A Bathtab: Hi, everyone, this is my friend's cat. His name is Igloo. I have him for almost 3 months now, while my friend is in Austria. He is very handsome cat: he has very big dark (jet black) eyes and a cute pink nose. I like him very much: except it's really hard to keep my mostly black and dark brown clothes from showing his hair. He has silky white hair on the belly and black hair on the back. I can't win: if I wear something dark, white hairs show, and if I wear something light, black hairs show. I don't care, I let him crawl all over me anyway. Cats are fun: I think we share the same attitude toward life. A bit of food, a bit of hug, a bit of cat-nap, and a bit of treat (sweets for me, cat-nip for Igloo) cheer both of us up. I think I'm made to live with cats.

Anyway, to close this iteration of web-index page, I want to write about dream - how it shapes what we remember. It turned out we dream to remember, literary! I coined "dream to remember" (I don't explicitly recall, but the line can be from some song or poem I've read before) meaning I rewrite some part of my past while dreaming - i.e., what I dream about my past is going to replace my real recollections of the past. It's a filter process, I don't explicitly think about the past much while awake. But when I sleep, people I knew or places I visited, come back to me. Dreaming adds to my memory. I thought eventually things I dream or things enter in my dream is my past (or what I can recall about my past). I feel that I dream to think and remember.

It turned out my sentiment is roughly what's going on with my brain during sleep. Long-term consolidation takes place while we dream (REM sleep). After initial encoding, it takes some time for memory to become fully established or organized in the brain. Initially bits and pieces of information are stored individually in various parts of the brain. The instructions on how to assemble information to form episodic memory is also stored separately. Eventually, the instructions are shifted to the regions of the brain with all the component pieces of the episodes to form patterns for permanent storage.

It is known that dreams often contains remains of recent experiences. During sleep, the hippocampus 'plays back' a recent experience to be recorded permanently. What 'plays back' depends on encoding - what we thought about the experience while we were awake. Sleep researchers now think that as we sleep, our brains work to save the experiences for life-time storage.

All this is fascinating to me. However, most of the time, I'm insomniac. Usually I promptly wake up after 5 hr. of sleep. It's really amusing. When I wake up, it's usually too early to do anything. Therefore, I think about what I dreamed during sleep. Sometimes, I don't really remember. Other times, I just remember the feelings or tones of the dream. Sometimes, I try to write out the story, but there's no time to record or decode everything. I'm left with this feeling of incompleteness, as if a half of me is invisible to myself. (August 13, 1997).

Source(s): Daniel L. Schacter, "Searching for memory: the brain, the mind, and the past", (New York, 1996).


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