We very often don't remember dreams. But I met a phenomena and I would like to know whether it is addressed in research or exists as a topic of its own interest. I could not find it with the conventional web search

It goes like this. In the morning I don't recall having any dream at all. But then I meet someone or something in my daily activity and instantly I recall that there was a dream last night and this person or object or animal was in it. Not only I recall the mere fact of the dreaming but many details and the "plot". But this usually doesn't work if "the meeting" with the dream's participant is more than one day after the dream.

Why would I suggest that such brain trick might have already been of interest to science? Well, if it is widespread (so not only me having this) then it would make hypotheses like "The reinterpretation of dreams: an evolutionary hypothesis of the function of dreaming" more relevant.

Update 1. Actually not only face to face meeting might trigger the recall, but also thinking consciously about some connecting entity may trigger it. For example, I used to sing in a choir, I don't return to thinking about those times very often, but sometimes I do. So I might recall an episode with the choir from the past during the morning or the day. And this can act as a cue to the recall. The dream events in this case usually has nothing to do with the episode that triggered the recall, the point is (possibly) that they're connected and about the same activity from my past.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Are you familiar with en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D%C3%A9j%C3%A0_vu ? $\endgroup$
    – Bryan Krause
    Commented Feb 3, 2023 at 15:41
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    $\begingroup$ @BryanKrause. Yes, but much more rare for me than the one I've described. Maybe the neuron mechanics are similar or involves similar brain areas. $\endgroup$
    – andromax
    Commented Feb 3, 2023 at 21:54

1 Answer 1


I am answering my own question since I found some scarce pieces of research regarding the topic in question. I hope some will find these finding worth reading.

The well-known researcher Michaer Schredl in his book Researching dreams: fundamentals mentioned the work of prof. G. William Domhoff. The quote is this

An object seen during the day can trigger the recall of a dream including the same topic (Domhoff 1969)

The mentioned work is a piece in an edited volume "Milton Kramer, Roy M. Whitman. Dream psychology and the new biology of dreaming" (pages 199–217). The chapter is called "Home dreams versus laboratory dreams – Home dreams are better".

I could not find the fulltext of this research, but the following is possible for obtaining the informations

  • prof. Domhoff himself often cited this research in the works that followed. And many of his works are reprinted at the site that he created DreamsResearch.net.

  • The link to the book above is to google books entry where preview is not available, but the search is possible

The the book Finding Meaning in Dreams: A Quantitative Approach (1996) Domhoff writes

Domhoff's (1969) naturalistic study of the factors involved in everyday recall over a two-week period suggests recency and mundane memory cues figure in a large portion of our total recall. Six male and six female students at California State University, Los Angeles, were recruited from the student employment office to record their dreams and the events surrounding recall as soon as the dreams were recalled

..... Non-morning recall seemed to be related to one or both of two factors, neither of which concerns dramatic intensity. First, minimal external cues seem to suddenly bring back dreams in which the external cue triggering the dream memory may play only a small part. Second, non-morning dream recall seems to occur when the dream memories are in some way linked to thoughts and associations the person is having in a relaxed, sometimes daydreamy mood; often, as might be expected, he or she is alone.

Domhoff also mentions extracts from the reports of some of the participants that is related to this phenomena of "cued recall". The following fragment illustrates this

Another male subject, telling a friend about his car, suddenly remembered a dream in which the paint was peeling off the car. In this case the recall was very fragmentary, consisting of two short images. A female subject about to sit down in chemistry class, spotted a friend and suddenly recalled in detail a dream about a person's supposed failure in the chemistry laboratory. Another time this same subject was watching a television ad about skiing that brought back a skiing dream.

The descriptions of theses recalls are very similar to my experience.

Final quote is from the small screen found when searching in the google books entry

... In fact, combining these "cue" and "associational" factors with length and recency, I would bet that spontaneously recalled dreams comprise a fairly representative sample of typical dream life


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