Dream research has terminology all its own.
Anything you might read regarding sleep, consciousness, and dreams makes use of
such terms, as well as terms from the scientific world in general. Many of these
you probably already know; others you might be fairly sure of, and perhaps a few
are still a bit fuzzy and in need of clarification. (True enough, you don't need
to know that a standard deviation is the square root of the variance to
appreciate an article about dreams. This glossary does not get quite that
carried away with itself).
I am hopeful that what follows is, at least, worth noting as a quick review
for you more sophisticated dream enthusiasts. To this end, here is an
enlightening guide to terminology ranging from the perhaps painfully obvious, to
that which you might otherwise bump into in the dark (ouch). Since it is not a
long list and many terms are closely interrelated, the terms are presented in an
instructive, conceptual manner rather than in alphabetical order:
* * * * * * * *
lucid dreaming: that state of dreaming sleep where conscious awareness has
occurred; awareness one is dreaming while dreaming. Learnable. Usually in REM
REM sleep: rapid eye movement stage of sleep where most
dreaming occurs. So called because eyes, not subject to sleep paralysis, can
follow action of dream.
sleep cycle: human sleep alternates between REM and non-REM states in roughly
90 minute intervals; each interval is called a sleep cycle.
sleep stages: sleep is divided into stages 1 through 4, each characterized by
specific measures and descriptions of brain activity.
beta waves: range 13-25 cycles per second, dominant electrical brain waves of
conscious mind while awake and alert, complex thinking. Like other brain waves,
can be measured on an electroencephalograph.
alpha waves: range 8-12 CPS, dominant waves of relaxation, meditation,
relaxed alertness. Facilitates inspiration, fast assimilation of facts,
heightened memory. Less than half an epoch (usually 30 seconds) of continuous
alpha rhythm indicates sleep onset.
theta waves: range 4-7 CPS, dominant waves of deep meditation and reverie,
associated with creativity, high suggestibility, and flashes of inspiration.
Free-form thinking linked to the non-conscious mind.
delta waves: range 0.5-3 CPS, dominant waves of deep, dreamless sleep.
K-complexes: high amplitude slow waves, appear in Stage 2 sleep.
sleep spindles: augments and decreases in a range of 15-18 CPS; these rhythms
appear in Stage 2 sleep. The most clear-cut index of sleep onset.
cerebral cortex: extensive outer layer of brain's gray matter largely
responsible for higher brain functions including sensation, voluntary muscle
movement, thought, reasoning, and memory. Divided into two hemispheres,
separated by bridge of nervous tissue called the corpus callosum.
EEG: electroencephalogram; measures waves of electrical activity of the
EOG: electrooculogram; measures eyelid movements associated with eyeball
EMG: electromyogram; measures electrical activity of muscles.
polygraph: machine that simultaneously records changes in various
non-REM: slow wave sleep with no rapid eye movements.
cholinergic-aminergic system: chemical system in brain, responsible for
sleeping and waking. Acetylcholine builds up during non-REM sleep and its
release initiates REM sleep; it is held in check during wakefulness by the
amines in the body (norepinephrine and serotonin).
night terror: abrupt awakening usually within first two hours of sleep during
Stage 3 or 4; sleeper experiences sense of terror. Not generally described by
sleeper as a dream, but rather images or sensations. Usually described
physiologically as a disorder of arousal, a minor abnormality in the brain's
sleep-wake mechanisms. Non-REM.
nightmare: quite different from night terror; sometimes called dream anxiety
attack, usually during last three hours of sleep during a REM period. Almost
always a long, intense dream. Less pulse increase and blood pressure increase
than with night terrors.
sleep paralysis: motor inhibition of legs, arms, and trunk during REM sleep;
keeps sleeper from physically acting out the dream.
volition: the act or an instance of making a conscious choice or decision, as
in a lucid dream.
somnambulism: sleepwalking; not associated with REM sleep.
sleeptalking: vocalization during sleep; not associated with REM sleep.
OBE: Out of Body Experience; the convincing sense one has separated in some
fashion from one's body, generally thought of by scientists as a specific set of
phenomena occurring during a vivid dream probably triggered by decreased
awareness of weight or gravity on body during shift from waking to sleeping.
dream ego: the representation or sensation of oneself experienced by a
dreamer in the dream.
hypnagogic, hypnopompic: periods of non-REM imagery and sensations,
associated with sleep onset and awakening respectively.
cognition: mental process of knowing, including awareness, perception,
reasoning, and judgment.
mentation: mental activity, thinking. Not limited to waking state.
somatic sensations: touch sensations; anything felt on the body.
sensory modality: any of several organic means by which the brain obtains
information about the environment; the sensory modality employed in reading is
kinesthetic: sense of body movement.
olfactory: sense of smell.
auditory: sense of hearing.
gustatory: sense of taste.
modeling: normal mental functioning whereby a person experiences a construct
of the environment based on information from the senses combining with memory to
create one's sense of reality. Occurs during sleep with far diminished outside
information and other variations.
perception: recognition and interpretation of sensory stimuli based chiefly
on memory; the neurological processes by which such recognition and
interpretation are effected.
hypothesis: an educated guess about a relationship between variables that is
then tested empirically.
theory: a set of statements that summarizes and organizes existing
information about a phenomenon, serving as explanation, and serving as basis for
predictions to be tested empirically.
field research: research occuring anywhere but in scientific laboratory.
experiment: a research procedure in which some factor is varied, all else is
held constant, and some result is measured.
survey: descriptive method in which subjects are asked series of questions or
respond to series of statements about some topic.
anecdotal evidence: evidence from individual case that illustrate a
phenomenon; can be helpful in various ways but cannot be relied upon
pseudoscience: any field of inquiry attempting to associate with true science
relying exclusively on anecdotal evidence; is deliberately too vague to be
biochemistry: the study of chemical substances and vital processes occuring
in living organisms.
psychology: the science that deals with mental processes and behavior.
psychiatry: the branch of medicine dealing with diagnosis, treatment, and
prevention of mental and emotional disorders.
psychophysiology: the study of correlations between the mind, behavior, and
neurology: the medical science dealing with the nervous system's functions
MILD: Mnemonic Induction of Lucid Dreaming; effective mental technique
developed by LaBerge to induce lucid dreaming at will.
WILD: Wake Initiated Lucid Dreaming; going directly into lucid
dream from waking state.
oneironaut: explorer of the dream world.
American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language
Dreamtime & Dreamwork; chapter: Nightmares: Terrors of the Night, by
Franklin Galvin and Ernest Hartmann
The Dreaming Brain, by J. Allan Hobson
The Chemistry of Conscious States, by J. Allan Hobson
Lucid Dreaming, by Stephen LaBerge, Ph.D.
Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming, by Stephen LaBerge, Ph.D. and Howard
Accelerated Learning, by Colin Rose
Research in Psychology: Methods and Design, by C. James Goodwin