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Immediate and delayed incorporations of events into dreams: further replication and implications for dream function

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circaseptan process, dream incorporation, dreaming, gender, memory, temporal factors

Abstract (summary)

The incorporation of memories into dreams is characterized by two types of temporal effects: the day-residue effect, involving immediate incorporations of events from the preceding day, and the dream-lag effect, involving incorporations delayed by about a week. This study was designed to replicate these two effects while controlling several prior methodological problems and to provide preliminary information about potential functions of delayed event incorporations. Introductory Psychology students were asked to recall dreams at home for 1 week. Subsequently, they were instructed to select a single dream and to retrieve past events related to it that arose from one of seven randomly determined days prior to the dream (days 1–7). They then rated both their confidence in recall of events and the extent of correspondence between events and dreams. Judges evaluated qualities of the reported events using scales derived from theories about the function of delayed incorporations. Average ratings of correspondences between dreams and events were high for predream days 1 and 2, low for days 3 and 4 and high again for days 5–7, but only for participants who rated their confidence in recall of events as high and only for females. Delayed incorporations were more likely than immediate incorporations to refer to events characterized by interpersonal interactions, spatial locations, resolved problems and positive emotions. The findings are consistent with the possibility that processes with circaseptan (about 7 days) morphology underlie dream incorporation and that these processes subserve the functions of socio-emotional adaptation and memory consolidation.

Publication Information

Nielsen, T. A., Kuiken, D., Alain, G., Stenstrom, P., & Powell, R. A. (2004). Immediate and delayed incorporations of events into dreams: Further replication and implications for dream function. Journal of Sleep Research, 13, 327-336.


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