Dreams and creative problem-solving

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2017 Oct;1406(1):64-67. doi: 10.1111/nyas.13412. Epub 2017 Jun 22.


Dreams have produced art, music, novels, films, mathematical proofs, designs for architecture, telescopes, and computers. Dreaming is essentially our brain thinking in another neurophysiologic state-and therefore it is likely to solve some problems on which our waking minds have become stuck. This neurophysiologic state is characterized by high activity in brain areas associated with imagery, so problems requiring vivid visualization are also more likely to get help from dreaming. This article reviews great historical dreams and modern laboratory research to suggest how dreams can aid creativity and problem-solving.

Keywords: REM sleep; creativity; dream incubation; dreams; problem-solving.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain / physiology*
  • Creativity*
  • Dreams / physiology*
  • Dreams / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Problem Solving / physiology*