A Chemical “Interpretation of Dreams”
Dreams could be considered as snippets of memory processed during sleep, to optimize conscious behavior. To comprehend the process of dreaming, one needs to clarify how memory is enabled. We discuss various proposals that were forwarded to clarify the physiologic basis of dreaming. Curiously in an age when mood altering drugs are the rage, psychoanalytic discussions of dreams, a la Freud, have avoided grappling with the neurochemical processes underlying the recall of dreams. We propose that dreams are derived from memory based on a chemically-based coding mechanism. The tripartite mechanism of memory involves the dynamic interactions of neurons with their surrounding extracellular matrix (nECM). Dopants (metal cations and neurotransmitters (NTs)) enable a chemical code, comprising metal-centered complexes representing cognitive units of information (cuinfo), with emotive states encoded by neurotransmitters (NTs). The neuron can decode the cuinfo as the basis of the memory that fuels dreams. Such a chemodynamic process is physiologically credible in that it involves materials and processes available to the neural net. During sleep dreaming, the chemodynamic “reading” of memory units (i.e. cuinfo) is disordered, scrambled and distorted. Sets of memory units (cuinfo) are decorated with NTs, to encode emotive states. Like a deck of randomly dealt cards, the neural “reading” of the cuinfo occurs without reference to temporal sequence or logical order. Rather, the integrated “emotive weight” of the cuinfo complexes determines their existential import during the dreaming process. Similarly, those with greater “emotive weight” are more likely to exert greater import in recall. Ultimately, the brain’s “affective calculus” during subsequent consciousness determines the dream’s impact and interpretation.