New theory of why we dream

Why do we dream? Psychologists and neuroscientists have been debating the function of dreams for centuries, but there is still no accepted answer. Now, David M. Eagleman​​ and Don A. Vaughn​ have proposed a new theory. Their preprint article, which has not yet been peer reviewed, is called The Defensive Activation theory: Dreaming as a mechanism to prevent takeover of the visual cortex. To my mind, it's a highly original and creative theory, but I'm not convinced by it. Here's Eagleman​​ and Vaughn​'s theory in nutshell: The role of dreams is to ensure that the brain's visual cortex is stimulated during sleep. Otherwise, if the visual system were deprived of input all night long, the visual cortex's function might degrade. We know that the visual cortex, in the brain's occipital lobe, can start to respond to non-visual signals if it...

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Reading printed books to children more beneficial to child’s development than e-books – study

Picking what book to read isn't the only choice families now make at story time - they must also decide between the print or electronic version. But traditional print books may have an edge over e-books when it comes to quality time shared between parents and their children, a new study suggests. The research, led by University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital and involving 37 parent-toddler pairs, found that parents and children verbalized and interacted less with e-books than with print books. The findings appear in journal Pediatrics, which is published by the American Academy of Pediatrics. "Shared reading promotes children's language development, literacy and bonding with parents. We wanted to learn how electronics might change this experience," says lead author Tiffany Munzer, M.D., a fellow in developmental behavioral pediatrics at Mott. "We found that when parents and children...

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Young children with pet dogs seen having fewer social interaction problems than other kids

There's no doubt that dogs can bring a whole lot of joy to a household. Our canine companions are loyal, caring, and offer unconditional love to every member of the family. Now, an interesting new study finds that a pet dog may also offer improved social and emotional well-being for children. In a nutshell, the study concludes that young children living with at least one dog at home display far stronger emotional and social development than kids with no pups at home. The research, conducted at the University of Western Australia in collaboration with the Telethon Kids Institute, includes 1,646 households (42%, or 686, of which own a dog) with at least one child between the ages of two and five. Each family was given a questionnaire to fill out. Best friends with benefits To start, a number of additional...

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