Dreams can be enjoyable, frightful, fascinating, unusual, or absurd. They follow a unique logic that is filled with abstractions and illogical scenarios. While sleeping, it's possible to dream about mundane things like going to the grocery or washing the floor.
People have always been captivated by dreams and have made numerous attempts to understand them. Dreams, according to the ancient Greeks, were agents from the gods and departed ancestors. Chinese people from the same historical era had comparable views on them and attempted to interpret them as future prophecies. People still practice this in the present day.
Although it has long been believed that dreams are the result of the brain absorbing information from the day, the theory of emotional regulation contends that dreams serve a specific purpose. They represent a protected and enclosed attempt to make sense of what is occurring in the outside world. To solve problems, like a personal workstation.
The cognitive activity of the waking person continues in dreams, despite their weirdness. The theory also focuses on the interpretation of symbols and views dreams as conscious reflections on particular issues.
There is also a different viewpoint, which says that dreams are only the consequence of brain activity. Dreams are the outcome of erroneous electrical "jumps" and chemical releases that the sleeping mind attempts to connect into something roughly coherent.
The "activation-synthesis hypothesis" is a concept that was put forth in 1977 by psychiatrists Allan Hobson and Robert McCarley. It implies that when we sleep, the brain engages in a process of self-purification that helps in the emergence of thoughts, memories, and other mental constructs. The limbic system, particularly the amygdala, and hippocampus, become active when this occurs.
On the other side, the information processing theory takes a more mechanical perspective when approaching the issue. Its name has a computer science-sounding moniker, which is quite suggestive today when comparing the human brain to a computer appears all but inevitable.
According to the previously described hypothesis, the brain functions primarily as an input-output information device that is built to carry out specific functions that promote learning. This lens is used to view dreams.
From the previous hypothesis, the self-organizing model of biological systems was developed. This theory simply examines the cognitive processes that dreams generate; it does not address the content or meaning of dreams. It proposes that we dream when there is a mismatch between the biological system's anticipated response (the person) and the environmental circumstances. (life, work, relationships, etc.). When it comes to certain memories and experiences, the brain works to reorganize itself in a way that gets rid of this contradiction.
You may have already noticed how connected and similar many of the theories mentioned are. This is the case, at least in part because new theories frequently draw from earlier ones. It is also evident that some of these are challenging to test in actual use. Others strip dreams of any mystery, reducing a person to an unimaginable web of biological interactions, making Freud's thesis impossible to accept as scientific.
Finally, there is one more theory named the threat simulation theory. It indicates that dreaming is similar to a role-playing game where survival scenarios are taken into consideration, allowing the brain to train and get ready for any threats in a secure environment.