For so long, people have been curious about where dreams originate and what they mean. Ancient civilizations interpreted dreams as coming from supernatural or spiritual origins, but modern society is more likely to link dreams with their waking life, understanding connections between dreams and their lived experiences.
Could Sigmund Freud have been right all along?
Dream Theories and Automation of Dream Analysis
Computer scientist and study lead author Alessandro Fogli of the Roma Tre University in Italy explained that studies had supported the claims of sleep scientists about the 'continuity hypothesis of dreams.' This suggests that most dreams are a continuation of the lived experiences of people in their daily lives.
He said that everyday life affects dreaming, such as anxiety, leads to negative dreams, and that dreaming also affects problem-solving skills.
Sigmund Freud, along with others in the 20th century, spearheaded the notion that dreams have hidden meanings that can be traced or unlocked by examining the context of a person's real-world experiences.
In modern-day dream analysis, therapists try to help their patients interpret and understand their dreams using dream reports, searching clues, symbols, and structures that might connect them to some aspects of the dreamer's life.
The Hall and Van de Castle system is said to be the best regard for interpreting dream reports. It codifies the dreams based on the characters that the dreamer sees, as well as the interactions between these characters, and the effect of these interactions.
However, the system can be slow and consumes much time processing the dream reports in identifying the elements present in the dreams. As a solution, sleep scientists continuously looked for algorithmic solutions that can hasten the task of interpreting and annotating dream content based on the method of Hall and Van de Castle.
The team of researchers found a new strategy of dream tracking on a vast scale by analyzing 24,000 dreams from a vast public database of dream reports, called the DreamBank. The researchers said that they had designed a tool that automatically scores dream reports using the Hall and Van de Castle system.
They validated the effectiveness of the tool on hand-annotated dream reports and tested the continuity hypothesis of dreams.
The tool can make the Hall and Van de Castle system simpler by analyzing the text dream reports and focusing on emotion words, characters, and social interactions between them, which are considered to be the most important factors in the interpretation of dreams.
They then compared the output of the hand-annotated notes of dream reports and their language processing tool and found that they match 75% of the time. The score is not perfect, but it implies a promising signal that tools such as theirs could lead to breakthroughs in dream analysis.
Furthermore, they also found data supporting the continuity hypothesis of dreams, which suggests that dreams are a continuation of a person's everyday life. They said that the dream reports contained various statistical markers that reflect what the dreamers are likely experiencing.
The study, published in the Royal Society Open Science, is another approach to the interpretation of dreams that quantifies essential aspects of dreams easier in the future and perhaps in building a technology that bridges the gap between dreams and real life.
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