Every human produces 4-6 dreams each night during REM cycles. That doesn’t mean everyone recalls their dreams. People who have more dream recall than people who don’t show more neural-pathway development and density in the medial Prefrontal Cortext (MPC). Brain injury studies on the medial prefrontal cortex is also associated with loss of dream recall as well as injury to the Parieto-Occipito-Temporal junction (PTO). Dream loss due to injury is known as Charcot–Wilbrand syndrome (CWS) which is known to only affect a rare number of people.
Other neural-degenerative disorders such as degenerative dementia and Alzheimer’s disease can also impede dreaming and behaviors in REM can be early markers for some these disorders.. Depression is also linked to reduction in dream recall as well as several medicines and drugs.
If the above can be ruled out, the most common reduction in dream recall frequency stems from age with a 50% drop in adults after the brain develops with a rapid decline towards the age of 60+ with 99.98% loss in dream recall.
In improving dream recall, it has long been known (Reed 1973) that keeping a dream journal and making an effort to record dreams will improve dream recall. REM cycles become longer during the last hours of sleep and are considered to be where most people have dream recall.
Other insights into dream recall from neurophysiology is the fact that the hippocampus doesn’t fully wake up until 2 minutes after sleep and may result in 90% recall loss.
If dream recall is improved through making an effort to journal and recall dreams and increased neural-pathway density in the medial prefrontal cortex in the control group of high-frequency dream recall participants. Dream recall should be viewed as a developmental skill and cognitive function that develops neural pathways when a person is active with that skill.
That making no effort to routinely recall dreams will not stimulate the neural-pathways in the medial prefrontal cortex leaving them prone to cognitive atrophy as unused neural pathways can undergo synaptic pruning. And making an effort to recall dreams will stimulate the medial prefrontal cortex to promote neural pathway growth as the skill of dream recall develops through routine and training.
Dream recall is a cognitive function of the brain that develops or atrophies depending on an individuals routine and interest in recalling dreams upon waking. That the same approaches to cognitive function decline with age could benefit dream recall such as exercise for improved blood-flow in conjunction with a healthy diet.
Although dream journals may contribute to the development of dream recall, there are other methods that may work such as cognitive stimulation activities built around stimulating the medial prefrontal cortext for dream recall. Inactive underdeveloped or atrophic neural-pathways will respond through activity and develop as would any skill.
For example, the hippocampus two minute delay on waking would suggest laying in bed reviewing dream memory for a few minutes would help reduce memory loss when proceeding to the next step of journaling.
As dreams reside in short-term memory writing key words before flushing out the dream will help with memory recall and is useful for dream segments that recede back into an amnesiac state. They can act as a mnemonic memory trigger for fading dream recall.
Most importantly, having a routine to encourage development for dream recall to help strengthen the neural pathways to counter atrophy that may develop if activity for dream recall ceases.
Here is a fun free 7-day course for dream recall using stimulation training.
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