I have been interested in dreams for several decades, largely because they are the sorts of delusional belief experiences that we all encouter. However, I rather regret that I have published relatively little on this topic over the years.
In the first paper with Susan Malcolm-Smith, we investigated Revonsuo’s influential Threat Simulation Theory, which predicts that people exposed to survival threats will have more
threat dreams. Comparing a high crime (South Africa) low crime area (Wales), we show that the incidence of threat in dreams was very low (less than 20%). Moreover, the dreams the high-crime (African) participants had fewer threat dreams, which contradicts key aspects of Threat Simulation Theory, The second Malcolm-Smith et al paper is a spirited response to this Revonsuo’s response, where we point out that our objections to Threat Simulation Theory remain valid.
The paper with Mark Blagrove investigates the 'dream-lag' effect - where there is a reappearance of features from events occurring 5–7 days before the dream.The dream-lag effect was found for Rapid Eye Movement Sleep (REM), but not for non-Rapid Eye Movement Sleep (NREM) - a finding with important implications for models of memory consolidation during sleep
Malcolm-Smith, S., Turnbull, O., Tredoux, C & Solms, M. (2008). Threat in dreams: An adaptation? Consciousness & Cognition, 17: 1281-1291. (download)
Malcolm-Smith, S., Solms, M., Turnbull, O. & Tredoux, C. (2008). Shooting the messenger won’t change the news. Consciousness & Cognition, 19: 1297-1301. (download)
Blagrove, M., Fouquet, N.C., Henley-Einion, J.A., Pace-Schott, E.F., Davies, A.C., Neuschaffer, J.L. & Turnbull, O.H. (2011). Assessing the dream-lag effect for REM and NREM stage 2 dreams. PLoS One, 6: c26708 1-7. (download)