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2007 Grant Awards from the DreamScience Foundationtm

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The International Association for the Study of Dreams (IASD) in conjunction with the DreamScienceTM foundation (DSF) wishes to proudly announce the award of the 2007 Research Grant funds.  This year the total grant funding available was $6000 which was split evenly between the following two research teams:

Grant #1:   $3000 award to Canadian researchers at the Dream and Nightmare Laboratory, Sleep Research Centre, Sacré-Coeur Hospital, Montreal: Philippe Stenstrom (M.Sc.) Department of Psychology, University of Montreal and Tore Nielsen (Ph.D.) Department of Psychiatry, University of Montreal.   Research Titled: “Effects of REM sleep deprivation on dreaming and episodic memory”

Grant # 2:  $3000 award to the research team of Clara E. Hill, PhD, and Charles J. Gelso, PhD. at the Department of Psychology, University of Maryland, College Park, MD.    Research Titled: “Dream Work in Ongoing Therapy“


=====================  Research Summaries =====================


Philippe Stenstrom, MSc and Tore Nielsen, PhD


Research Facility - Dream and Nightmare Laboratory, Sleep Research Centre, Sacré-Coeur Hospital, Montreal
P. Stenstrom - University of Montreal, Department of Psychology
T. Nielsen - University of Montreal, Department of Psychiatry

Title:  Effects of REM sleep deprivation on dreaming and episodic memory


The objective of the study is to clarify the role of dreaming in the consolidation of episodic memories. We will use virtual reality (VR) to enable ecologically valid measures of episodic learning and REM sleep deprivation to disrupt the consolidation process. Episodic memory refers to a system that stores memories of events located in time and space and for which a sense of ‘remembering’ (as opposed to ‘knowing’) the events is associated. Consolidation refers to the time-dependent processes that convert labile memory traces into more permanent forms. Studies from our laboratory (Nielsen et al, 2004, J. Sleep Res.) suggest that two important consolidation intervals implicating REM sleep occur one day and 6-7 days following learning. Other studies provide inconsistent findings for REM sleep processes, but may be explained as due to the use of non-specific tasks that measure episodic memories only indirectly (e.g., word lists). Further, a direct test of REM sleep’s role in episodic memory using REM sleep deprivation has never been done. The proposed study will use a VR paradigm (modified from Burgess et al., 2001, Neuroimage) to present lifelike, ecologically valid, events and will use REM sleep deprivation to disrupt episodic memory for these events. Subjects will be immersed, using a head mounted VR display, in a virtual town where they will navigate and experience controlled pre-scripted events while fulfilling specific tasks (e.g., receiving an object from a character). Consolidation of these events and tasks will be measured with a computerized forced-choice test of recall for factual, temporal and spatial episodic elements (Rauchs et al., 2004, J. Sleep Res.) of the VR experience on Days 1, 4 and 7 post-VR exposure. REM dream reports will also be collected in the laboratory at Days 1, 4 and 7. Based on a new model of hippocampally-mediated consolidation in REM sleep (Nielsen & Stenstrom, 2005, Nature), we expect that VR exposure will produce REM-related consolidation (as reflected in dreaming about the VR stimulus) on Days 1 and 7, but not on Day 4, and that this consolidation will be disrupted at both times by REM sleep deprivation.



Research Team: Clara E. Hill, PhD, and Charles J. Gelso, PhD.

Affiliation: Department of Psychology, University of Maryland, College Park, MD

Title: Dream Work in Ongoing Therapy


The overall purpose is to investigate the process and outcome of dream work within ongoing therapy. Specifically: (a) Will clients bring in more dreams to therapy if therapists prompt clients at the beginning of therapy to bring in dreams? (b) What types of methods do therapists use when working with dreams at different stages of therapy? (c) Are sessions involving dream work better in terms of session outcome than sessions not involving dream work? (d) Are therapists’ dreams about their clients reflective of countertransference? (e) Are clients’ dreams about therapists reflective of transference and attachment style? 

Objectives: In the ~25 studies on the Hill dream model, evidence has been found that the model is quite effective. These studies, however, have involved single structured sessions, brief structured therapy, or surveys of practicing therapists, so we still need to know about how therapists who have been trained in dream work do dream work in more naturally-occurring therapy.   We expect to learn more about the process of dream work in naturally-occurring therapy, an area that has received no empirical scrutiny. Such results will be useful for practicing therapists who want to adapt the Hill dream model for use in ongoing therapy.

a.       Hypothesis 1: Clients will bring more dreams into therapy when therapists state that they value working with dreams than when therapists make no mention of dreams at the beginning of therapy.

b.      Hypothesis 2: Therapists will use more exploration activities early in therapy, more insight activities in the middle of therapy, and more action activities at the end of therapy when working with dreams.

c.       Hypothesis 3: Sessions involving at least 15 minutes of dream work will result in better session outcome than sessions involving no dream work.

d.      Therapists will be more likely to dream about clients when they have high rather than low countertransference related to the clients.

e.       Clients who dream about their therapists, as compared to those who do not, will more likely have high transference and a preoccupied/merger attachment style.

Approximately 10 doctoral student therapists will conduct therapy (duration limited by calendar year) with approximately 100 community clients. Participants will complete measures prior to therapy, after sessions, and after therapy. Supervisors will also complete measures on therapists. 


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