We have an interpretative system in our brain that creates a reasonable story out of information we have from our present and previous experiences in our lives, as discussed in the previous post.
When we sleep, our brain uses the same story making ability, but with the difference, of non-congruence with the real world: in a dream, we can change scenes without warning, we might be in our living room at one point, and the following scene we are in our favorite theme park with our friend, who was not in the previous scene. Or maybe our house is composed of the living room from our childhood house, and the kitchen is our current kitchen, and the back yard is from our grandparents’ house, but we dream it as our house. Then we step foot out of the house and with no surprise, the beach is there in place of the city!
In this and similar cases, what happens when we dream is that the outside world provides almost no input making possible to our brain to make broader connections. So when we represent a house, our brain seeks out our memories of houses, resulting in a peculiar combination.
In our dreams, not only do settings shift, but characters also sometimes transform without warning…the person we are talking to at first is no longer the person we are talking to later, and the person in the next scene might have appeared out of nowhere, or the one talking to us just disappeared. Metamorphosis of people, objects and animals also may be present in our dreams. Yet our brain creates a sense of continuity in our dreams out of different scenes, places, objects, people and emotions.