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Forgetting Dreams

September 5, 2006

A listener asks: Why don’t we remember our dreams?


Making sense of dreams. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Today’s Why Is It question comes from Julie de Chalendar of Oundle in Peterborough, England. She wants to know why we can’t remember all of our dreams.

We asked MIT neurobiologist Matthew Wilson. He says dreaming is our brain’s way of sorting through, organizing, and evaluating previous events. That process occurs in the deeper parts of the brain, and maybe isn’t meant to percolate up to the surface.

In fact, the things that we don’t recall may be the things that are the most important for processing of memory. So I think that simply because we don’t remember it, doesn’t mean that it’s not making changes or organizing memory in important ways.

If a science question’s keeping you awake at night, call us at 1-800-WHY-ISIT. If we use it, you’ll get a free Science Update mug. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the science society.