Definition: Researchers, philosophers, and writers have long pondered the explanations for exactly why we dream. A number of different theories have been suggested, but one of the best known is the activation-synthesis model proposed in the late 1970s by dream researchers J. Allan Hobson and Robert McCarley.
According to this theory, it is the activities and physiological process of the brain that lead to dreaming. During REM sleep, circuits in the brain become activated. As a result, parts of the limbic system that are associated with sensations, memories, and emotions become active as well. Our dreams, this theory suggests, are the result of our brains trying to make sense out of all these signals and internal activities. Continue reading to learn more details about the activation-synthesis model of dreaming.