Children’s dreams are a really interesting window into their developing minds. There’s a group of researchers who have done dream research in children which is about as low-tech as it sounds. You put the kids to sleep, and then you come in at various times in the night and you wake them up, and you ask them what they were dreaming.
For a really small child, you ask “What was happening?” because a really little child doesn’t even know what a dream is. And what they find pretty consistently is before the age of six or so there’s almost no action in dreams. So we think of dreams as this big complicated, ridiculous story where you’re doing this and you’re doing that.
Little kids have dreams like “I was watching the cat.” “I was in the bathtub.” There are a lot of animals in little children’s dreams, but they’re all very passive. And a really interesting thing is that the kids who have more active dreams and more complicated dreams are the ones who have better spatial reasoning for their age. So it looks like the dreams are in some way reflecting the basic brain development, the increase and the capacity of what the brain can do, and that gets reflected in the dreams.
60 Second Reads is recorded in Big Think’s studio.
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