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The Limits of Dream - 1st Edition - ISBN: 9780123742155, 9780080559605

The Limits of Dream

1st Edition

A Scientific Exploration of the Mind / Brain Interface

Author: 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



Chapter 1 Introduction


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


Limits of the Cartesian Perspective

What is Mind?


Psychoanalytic Approaches

Alternative Perspectives

Chapter 3 A Dream can be Gazpacho


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






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


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


The Neurological Substrate of Dream

Section 3 Studying the Cognitive Substrate of Dreaming

Chapter 8 Dreams and Sleep: The Substrate Hypothesis

Dream Recall in Insomnia

Insomnia and Nightmare Recall Frequency

The Association Between Sleep and Mind

Chapter 9 Dreaming and Memory

Memory and Dreams

Imagery and Intrinsic Memory

Dream Recall

Dream content

EveryDay Memory and Mind

Dream Use

Memory and Mind


The Brain/Computer Interface


Artificial Intelligence

The Perceptual Interface

The Motor Interface

Computation and Thought


Problem Solving

The Capabilities of Artificial Systems

Section 4 The Cognitive Process of Dreaming

Chapter 11 Emotions and Dream

Frightening Dreams

Emotions and Dreaming

Emotions and Mind

Emotional Dreaming

Chapter 12 Exploring the Visual Interface

Visual Consciousness

The Visual Representation of Space


Dream Imagery

Artificial Dream Imagery – Filmmaking

Visual Components of Dreaming

Chapter 13 Thinking and Dreaming

Thinking in Dreams

Bizarreness in Dreams

Associative Thought in Dreams

The Neurological Basis of Thought

Thinking and the Mind

Section 5 The Cognitive Organization of Dreaming

What we know

The Formal Structure of Dreaming

Chapter 14 Hallucinations and Dreams

Dream-Like Phenomena

Parasomnias and Unusual Dreams

Are Dreams Hallucinations?

Chapter 15 Dreaming and Storytelling

The Narrative Structure of Thought

The Mythic Structure of Story

Dreams in Literature

Dreams in Screenplay

The Limits of Dream Imagery

The Power of the Story

Chapter 16 Film: The Projected Dream

Moving Pictures

The Visual Language of Film

Visual Imagery and Film

Apparatus Theory

Film Theory

Section 6 Functional uses for Dreaming

Chapter 17 Creativity

The Gestalt of Creativity

The Creative Personality

Psychoanalytic Creativity

Creativity as Divergent Thinking

The Disorder of Creativity

Dreaming Creatively

Chapter 18 Non-Dreaming or the Use of Dreams in Creativity

Creativity in the Sleep Laboratory

Dream Use and Creative Interest


The Creativity of Non-dreamers

Chapter 19 Dream use by Filmmakers

Screenwriters and Their Use of Dreams

Scriptwriting: The Dream-Like Process

Incubating a Screenplay

Dream Use by Directors

Dream Use by Actors

Sundance Interviews: Actors

Sundance Questionnaire Responses: Actors


Dream Use in the Creative Process

Chapter 20 Dreaming and Artists

Dream Use in Creativity: Psychopathology

Creativity and Dreaming

Borders of Mind

Section 7 Models of Mind and Brain

Chapter 21 Models of Mind = Brain

Transmission-Line Neuro-Processing


Alternative Monist Theories

Massively Parallel Neuro-Processing

Physiologic CNS Electrical Rhythms

Problems with Monists

Chapter 22 Mind not Brain: The Cartesian Psychoanalyst

Diseases of the Mind: The Psychoanalytic Approach

The Limitations of Psychoanalysis in the Diagnosis

Treatment of Psychiatric Illness

Psychoanalysis and the Structure of Mind

Cartesian Psychoanalysis

The Psychoanalytic Perspective of Mind

The Cartesian Psychoanalyst

Chapter 23 Viewing the Border Between Brain and Mind: A Modified Cartesian Perspective

Modified Cartesian Models

Visualizing the Mind/Brain Border

Dreaming Across the Border

Chapter 24 The Limits of Dream

Brain-Based Correlates of Mind

Mind-Based Cognitive Processes

The Limits of Knowledge: Borders




No. of pages:
© Academic Press 2008
24th March 2008
Academic Press
Hardcover ISBN:
eBook ISBN:

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

Ratings and Reviews