Here's something you may have missed over the holidays: A fun piece on NewScientist.com that uses artists' renderings to demonstrate how certain cultures have depicted dreams over time and what nighttime imaginings could tell us about ourselves in the waking world. From Homer to Lewis Carroll, Alfred Hitchcock and Salvador Dalí, writers, filmmakers, painters and more have attempted to share what's otherwise known only to the one who sleeps and dreams it. Now, science has opened windows into some of the neurological processes at work.
From the piece:
Normally, we don't think our dreams are bizarre while we're dreaming them – a quirk that researchers ascribe to reduced activity in the frontal and parietal cortices of the brain. Director Michel Gondry exploits this oddity in The Science of Sleep (2006), as dreams and real life begin to merge for Stéphane Miroux (played by Gael García Bernal).
Oversized features such as Miroux's gigantic hands should be one of the surest signs we are dreaming. These exaggerated proportions may be a result of reduced working memory, which makes it difficult for the brain to keep all the elements in perspective as the scene changes.