I would say that dreaming is like any conscious experience, except that objective reasoning is turned off. Do fMRI imaging studies indicate that the reasoning centers of the brain are inactive during REM sleep? Are other sensory sections, like the visual cortex active?

By reasoning centers of the brain, I am referring to area(s) specifically associated with logic.

  • $\begingroup$ Hi Anoop, could you explain how you got to the hypothesis that reasoning is turned of? Do you have any literature that suggests such a thing, for instance? Otherwise I'll have to vote to close this question for being primarily opinion based. $\endgroup$ Jan 21, 2017 at 7:43
  • $\begingroup$ I am basing "reasoning is turned off" purely on the fact that in the conscious reality of the dream experience we are aware of plenty of experiences that would seem REALLY illogical in the waking reality but are accepted as completely natural in the dream reality. So we are conscious and thinking; just not logically. We are not aware of the fact that we are experiencing an illogical reality. It is possible to become aware of this fact. Just google lucid dreaming. $\endgroup$
    – Anoop Alex
    Jan 21, 2017 at 10:48
  • $\begingroup$ Ah okay. It starts to make sense now ;). I'll refrain from the vote to close and instead up vote $\endgroup$ Jan 21, 2017 at 11:43

1 Answer 1


I cannot answer from fMRI's, but this theory conflicts with other anecdotal evidence from medicine.

In sensory deprivation, or under psychotomimetic substances, you can be awake and unimpaired logically, and still have reality make as little sense as it does in a dream. (People on LSD are not less logical, in an abstract sense. If you can get them to care about an IQ test long enough to take it, they can do just as well.)

To the extent those effects are comparable, I would doubt it is reason that is impaired. It is more likely that reasoning is fine, but the ability to check predictions against perception is lacking.

Antonio Damasio's observations on brain lesions that limit emotion, explained in his popularizing book, seems to indicate that abstract reason needs physical grounding (from the environment or from internal sensations like emotional reactions) or it goes off the rails and does not result in what we ordinarily consider logic, even if the reasoning skills themselves are in order.

Much perceptual feedback and even internal feeback loops are disabled or attenuated by the physiological paralysis in sleep.

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    $\begingroup$ Hi Jobermark, welcome at CogSci and thanks for the nice answer. But do you have an references that may back up your statements? Here at CogSci we expect well researched answers with credible sources. $\endgroup$ Jan 21, 2017 at 7:42
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    $\begingroup$ I thought his name was enough. He has only one major theory, and you can easily Google him. I have added references. $\endgroup$
    – jobermark
    Jan 23, 2017 at 0:23
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for adding the references! They are much appreciated. $\endgroup$
    – Seanny123
    Apr 25, 2017 at 1:07

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