Sidarta Ribeiro, Joshua M Martin, Danyal Wainstein, Natalia B Mota, Sergio A Mota-Rolim, John Fontenele Araújo and Mark Solms
Dream reports collected after rapid eye movement sleep (REM) awakenings are, on average, longer, more vivid, bizarre, emotional and story-like compared to those collected after non-REM. However, a comparison of the word-to-word structural organization of dream reports is lacking, and traditional measures that distinguish REM and non-REM dreaming may be confounded by report length. This problem is amenable to the analysis of dream reports as non-semantic directed word graphs, which provide a structural assessment of oral reports, while controlling for individual differences in verbosity. Against this background, the present study had two main aims: Firstly, to investigate differences in graph structure between REM and non-REM dream reports, and secondly, to evaluate how non-semantic directed word graph analysis compares to the widely used measure of report length in dream analysis. To do this, we analyzed a set of 125 dream reports obtained from 19 participants in controlled laboratory awakenings from REM and N2 sleep. We found that: (1) graphs from REM sleep possess a larger connectedness compared to those from N2; (2) measures of graph structure can predict ratings of dream complexity, where increases in connectedness and decreases in randomness are observed in relation to increasing dream report complexity; and (3) measures of the Largest Connected Component of a graph can improve a model containing report length in predicting sleep stage and dream complexity. These results indicate that dream reports sampled after REM awakening have on average a larger connectedness compared to those sampled after N2 (i.e. words recur with a longer range), a difference which appears to be related to underlying differences in dream complexity. Altogether, graph analysis represents a promising method for dream research, due to its automated nature and potential to complement report length in dream analysis.
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