A brief project update: I have been thinking about the mysterious hyperassociativity (HA) for a while. HA features in a handful of papers about cognition during REM sleep/dreaming (although we know those things are somewhat independent!), although I haven’t found a definition of it. In my 2017 paper (https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyt.2017.00159/full) I presented a few possibilities, including several different memory sources being activated at the same time. So the next step has been to explore the characteristics of HA, according to this definition, and to provide the first set of empirical data on it. (Also do see Dr. Josie Malinowski’s website definition and summary of hyperassociativity, here: https://oneirology.co.uk/glossary-of-dreamy-terms/hyperassociativity/ )
I have a few projects in the pipeline. The first is currently underway. We have tested 10/15 participants, and I’m enjoying keeping my own dream diary again also. The study involves waking participants at two points per night, for two nights, and their sleep stage is monitored by a Sleep Profiler (diagnostic tool that provides sufficient EEG to determine polysomnography), to generate mentation reports from typically “deep sleep” (N2/3) awakenings as well as morning awakenings (typically REM). Dream characteristics can then be compared.
I’m also asking participants to identify the memory sources of their dreams, and to indicate a few features of these, including the horizontal HA (are there any transitions over time in the dream?) and vertical HA (which kinds of memory sources are grouped together at any one time point? Are there predictable features of these?). The latter will take some complicated analysis, but it is fascinating. The plan is to collect the results and present the findings at the Sleep and Memory meeting in Cardiff in September, hosted by Prof. Penny Lewis (CUBRIC, Cardiff) and Dr. Scott Cairney (University of York, SLAM lab). Also with thanks to Amelia Walton, BA Psychology intern from BGU, who has been stoically helping with the data collection for this project.
In addition I’m working with Dr. Josie Malinowski (UEL) and Prof. Sue Llewellyn, long time supportive collaborators, on the nature and measurement of HA. So, hopefully, a couple of papers to follow before the end of the year.