Robert Stickgold and Antonio Zadra, "When Brains Dream: Exploring the Science and Mystery of Sleep" (Norton, 2021)


In When Brains Dream: Exploring the Science and Mystery of Sleep (W. W. Norton, 2021), psychologist Dr. Antonio Zadra and neuroscientist Dr. Robert Stickgold offer a fascinating survey of the biological and psychological bases of dreams and dreaming. The authors address head-on fundamental questions such as why do we dream? Do dreams hold psychological meaning or are they merely the reflection of random brain activity? What purpose do dreams serve? As part of their synthesis, Zadra and Stickgold introduce a new conceptual model of dream function, NEXTUP (Network Exploration to Understand Possibilities). This model can help readers and scientists to understand key features of several types of dreams, from prophetic dreams to nightmares and lucid dreams. When Brains Dream also explores the history of psychological, neuroscientific, and psychoanalytic dream research, examines a host of dream-related disorders, and explains how dreams can facilitate creativity and be a source of personal insight.

Dr. Robert Stickold is a full professor of psychiatry at the Harvard Medical School and the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. A sleep researcher, his work focuses on the relationship between sleep and learning. His articles in the popular press are intended to illustrate the dangers of sleep deprivation.

Dr. Antonio Zadra is full Professor in the Department of Psychology at the Université de Montréal, and is a researcher at the Center for Advanced Research in Sleep Medicine, as well as a member of the Interdisciplinary Research Centre on Intimate Relationship Problems and Sexual Abuse. His research covers a wide range of topics on the psychology of dreaming, including parasomnias, somnambulism, interactions with personality and well-being, and consciousness.

Dr. John Griffiths (@neurodidact) is an Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto, and Head of Whole Brain Modelling at the CAMH Krembil Centre for Neuroinformatics. His research group ( works at the intersection of computational neuroscience and neuroimaging, building simulations of human brain activity aimed at improving the understanding and treatment of neuropsychiatric and neurological illness.

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