This chapter addresses the question of whether the brain shuts down its most important functions during sleep. If this were true, it would suggest that dreaming emerges during a time of degraded brain functioning. The chapter starts by describing the emergence of the human brain and its remarkable growth in size and complexity over the past six million years. Research findings are discussed that look at brain activation during sleep from three methodological perspectives: neuro-electrical, neuro-chemical, and neuro-anatomical. Scientific studies in each of these areas are examined, and the results make it clear that the brain does not shut down its most important functions during sleep, but rather engages in a complex cycle of activities throughout the night. Topics include rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, neurotransmitters, and the limbic system.
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