Why do we have nightmares? Scientists find brain area related to ‘angry’ dreams

Where do nightmares come from? (Getty)
Where do nightmares come from? (Getty)

A new scientific breakthrough could help scientists understand nightmares – after scientists found a pattern of brain activity related to anger in dreams.

Researchers from the University of Turku monitored people’s brains as they slept, and asked them to report the emotional content of their dreams.

The researchers that people who showed a certain pattern in their brain waves were more likely to experience anger in dreams.

The find could help scientists understand nightmares, which are often a side-effect of sleep disorders, the researchers said.

Lead author Pilleriin Sikka said, ‘We found that individuals who displayed greater alpha-band brain activity in the right frontal cortex as compared to the left during evening wakefulness and during REM sleep experienced more anger in dreams.

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‘This neural signature is known as frontal alpha asymmetry (FAA)

Alpha-band brain activity refers to brain waves with a frequency of 8-12 Hz, and they are especially prevalent during relaxed wakefulness.

Alpha waves are thought to reflect the inhibition of underlying brain areas.

More alpha waves in the right frontal area thus indicate lower activity in that brain region.

Sikka said, ‘Previous studies have shown that frontal alpha asymmetry is related to anger and self-regulation during wakefulness.

‘Our research results show that this asymmetrical brain activity is also related to anger experienced in dreams.’

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