The Limits of Dream

1st Edition

A Scientific Exploration of the Mind / Brain Interface

Authors: J. Pagel
Hardcover ISBN: 9780123742155
eBook ISBN: 9780080559605
Imprint: Academic Press
Published Date: 24th March 2008
Page Count: 250
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The Limits of Dream focuses on what we currently know of the human central nervous system (CNS), examining the basic sciences of neurochemisty, neuroanatomy, and CNS electrophysiology as these sciences apply to dream, then reaching beyond basic science to examine the cognitive science of dreaming including the processes of memory, the perceptual interface, and visual imagery. Building on what is known of intrapersonal CNS processing, the book steps outside the physical body to explore artificially created dreams and their use in filmmaking, art and story, as well as the role of dreaming in creative process and creative “madness.” The limits of our scientific knowledge of dream frame this window that can be used to explore the border between body and mind. What is known scientifically of the cognitive process of dreaming will lead the neuroscientist, the student of cognitive science, and the general reader down different paths than expected into an exploration of the fuzzy and complex horizon between mind and brain.

Key Features

  • The clearest presentation of research and philosophy currently available relating to the mind/brain interface
  • Discusses the cognitive processes of dreaming utilized in film and artificial intelligence
  • Describes the functioning of dream in the creative process


  • Cognitive neuroscientists, particularly those interested in sleep and dream, memory and creativity.
  • Philosophers and students of philosophy interested in assessing new developments in philosophy of mind.
  • Psychologists, psychiatrists, and physicians interested in brain function.
  • Computer scientists focused on the development of neural networks and other aspects of brain/mind interface.
  • Psychoanalysts and individuals with an interest in the development and application of psychoanalytic perspectives.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements Preface Chapter 1 Introduction Body/Mind Dreams as Windows But, Is REM Sleep Dreaming? The Event Horizon The Limits of Dream Section 1 Definitions and the Search for Truth Chapter 2 Mind/Plato’s Cave Descartes Limits of the Cartesian Perspective What is Mind? Definitions Psychoanalytic Approaches Alternative Perspectives Chapter 3 A Dream can be Gazpacho Definitions Section 2 The Biological Substrate of Dream Chapter 4 The Neuroanatomy of Dreaming The Neuroanatomy of REMS The Neuropathology of Dreaming The Neuroanatomy of Dreaming Chapter 5 The Neurochemistry of Dreaming REMS Neurochemistry Medications Affecting Sleep Medications Affecting Dreaming Primary Neurotransmitters Affecting Sleep and Dreaming Acetylcholine Norepinephrine Serotonin Dopamine GABA Neurotransmitter Modulating Systems Dreaming and Nightmares: Neurotransmitter Systems Agents Affecting Conscious Interaction with the Environment Anesthetics Agents Affecting Host Defense The Neurochemistry of Dreams and Nightmares Chapter 6 The Electrophysiology of Dreaming The EEG Functional Roles for CNS Electrical Fields Evidence for a Functioning Extracellular Electrical System in the CNS Drug Effects Disease States The Electrophysiology of Dreams Chapter 7 The Complexity of Dreams: Neural networks and Consciousness Biological Applications of Neural Net Theories The Dreams of Neural Networks Complexity of the Biologic System The Limits of Dream Structure The Neurological Substrate of Dream Secti


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About the Author

J. Pagel

JF Pagel has authored more than 170 publications. His basic research addressed the electrophysiology of consciousness, the neurochemistry of sleep and dream, and the role of REM sleep in learning and memory. His clinical work includes proofs for non-dreaming and the requirement of sleep for dream and nightmare, the diagnostic code for nightmare disorder, a definition protocol for dream, and demonstrations that REM sleep and dreaming are doubly dissociable. He has developed approaches to treating insomnia, sleep & altitude, narcolepsy, pediatric parasomnias, and waking somnolence, as well as addressing dream and nightmare use in trauma, art, creativity and filmmaking. He is co-editor of one of the major sleep-medicine texts: Primary Care Sleep Disorders (2007/ 2014). His books include: The Limits of Dream – A Scientific Exploration of the Mind /Brain Interface (2007), Dreaming and Nightmares (ed.) (2010), and Dream Science – Exploring the Forms of Consciousness (2014).

Affiliations and Expertise

University of Colorado, School of Medicine, USA


"Jim Pagel's The Limits of Dream delves into the scientific, philosophical, creative and psychological aspects of this very human phenomenon and manages to be both coherent and consistently interesting. The only other book I've read about dreams told you how to play the horses." --John Sayles, Director, Writer, and Actor

"This wonderfully creative book, based on the author's many original studies of sleep and dreams, as well as his masterful knowledge the relevant fields in neuroscience, provides us with a new theory of dreaming as well as a devastating critique of the highly visible but simplistic neurophysiological theories of dreams that have been on the stage for all too long." -G. William Domhoff, Research Professor in Psychology, University of California, Santa Cruz

"This marvelous book starts from research neuropsychology and blazes on into the intricate beauty and creativities of dream phenomenology and cognition, and all that bridging into film as dream and dream as film. Its breadth and philosophical sophistication are unique in dream studies. It is a major achievement." Harry T. Hunt, Psychology, Brock University

"Dr. Pagel is an extremely well regarded researcher in both the worlds of sleep and of dreams. What he is proposing is quite unique and could be an important "bridging" book between these two domains who have unfortunately had a previous relationship somewhat analogous to one of being water and oil." -Bob van de Castle, University of Virginia Medical Center and former president of the Association for the Study of Dreams