Dreaming Shown to be Powerful Tool for Learning

Dreams have been the subject of rigorous study for years, well before the modern shape of psychology allowed for a more structured and accurate approach. Unlocking the secrets of why and how we dream, as well as chasing after other important sleep-related questions, may help therapists, doctors, and other professionals see more clearly into the health and well-being of a client, and identify areas for improvement. Investigating the role of dreaming in the process of learning and understanding new information, a team from the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center has found that dreams can be important for improving upon newly-learned tasks and abilities.

The study involved just under one hundred participants, all of whom were assigned to play a maze-based computer game for an hour. The game required participants to navigate through the maze in certain ways to arrive at endpoints with the fastest route possible. After finishing this task, a study group was instructed to take a ninety minute nap, while a control group was involved in quiet and leisurely activities that nevertheless involved staying awake. When all participants had either napped or taken a wakeful resting period, they were given the task of completing the maze again, and researchers found that an interesting difference in performance appeared between the study and control groups.

Those participants who had taken a nap and who also reported dreaming about some aspect of the maze game showed a dramatic improvement in performance over those who did not sleep. The improvement in performance was also present between those who slept and dreamed about the game and those who slept but did not have any such dreams. Even those in the control group who reported thinking about the game did not realize an improvement comparable with that of the dreaming group. The results shed light on how the brain may use dreaming as a tool to process or encode information, an exciting discovery that researchers note warrants further study.

© Copyright 2010 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

  • Leave a Comment


    April 27th, 2010 at 5:24 PM

    dreams are influeneced by what we see,do and think about in our waking hours and it is only imperative that dreams influence our waking hours…our conscious and subconscious and deeply inter-related and this is just one of the results of that.

  • Kayla


    April 28th, 2010 at 4:58 AM

    Do you really think there is that much more to learn from dreams other than what we are already feeling on a subconscious level?

  • tia


    April 28th, 2010 at 1:48 PM

    I just think dreams are an extension of our subconscious and sometimes guide us.They show us things in ways that is visible to our subconscious but ways that we cannot readily decipher.When the same is seen in the form of a dream,we are able to grasp it and can even apply it later on in ral-life situations…

Leave a Comment

By commenting you acknowledge acceptance of GoodTherapy.org's Terms and Conditions of Use.



* Indicates required field.

Therapist   Treatment Center

Advanced Search

Search Our Blog

Title   Content   Author
GoodTherapy.org is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, medical treatment, or therapy. Always seek the advice of your physician or qualified mental health provider with any questions you may have regarding any mental health symptom or medical condition. Never disregard professional psychological or medical advice nor delay in seeking professional advice or treatment because of something you have read on GoodTherapy.org.