Tuesday, September 24, 2019


One of the stronger theories of LOST addicts is that the entire premise of the show was one trapped in a dream.

Whose dream is an open question. As is why humans dream at all.

Scientists are still not sure why we dream.  But new research in mice suggests that the brain might be using periods of deep sleep to clear out residual memories to make room for fresh ones.

Published in the journal Science, researchers in Japan observed the mice's hypothalamus while the mice slept. During their deep REM sleep - - -which is associated with dreaming in humans - - - a type of neuron that produced a hormone called MCH had a sharp uptick in activity. The MCH neurons also appeared to be targeting neurons in the hippocampus, the brain region that consolidates memories.

In an experiment, researchers isolated MCH neurons in the mice's brains for observation. The mice were allowed to sniff and play with two toys, which were removed when the mice had become familiar with them. Later, the mice were given a familiar toy and a new toy. With their MCH neurons artificially activated, the mice sniffed them both—suggesting that their memory of them was worse. When the neurons were artificially deactivated, the mice were able to remember that they had already been exposed to the familiar plaything.

The ability of MCH neurons to go patrolling the hippocampus during REM sleep led the paper’s authors to suggest the brain might use this dream stage to do some neurological tidying up, getting rid of non-crucial information so fresh data can be processed.

Why would we want to forget things? An abundance of information can be overwhelming and inhibit the ability to make sense of new knowledge. But if something is truly important—a birthday, a PIN number, a vacation—the brain will hang on to it.

If you want a technology analogy, it is like de-fragmenting your hard drive. Bits and pieces of computer information (code) is randomly stored on your hard drive media. But over time, accessing bits of information get stored in different places on the drive. When you run a preventative maintenance program, it rejoins the associated information bits for better access.

One of the reoccurring oddities of the show was the frustrating part that the main characters "forgot" key information at important moments. As a viewer, "how stupid!" was a common reaction to a character falling into a known trap. This study could be an explanation that the characters' memories were being erased by new memories (or brain washing).

Also, if the story engine was in the mind of one character, such as Jack or Hurley, then certain stimulus or an overactive imagination could jumble up aspects of his fantasy world to create continuity errors.

Story continuity errors was a big gripe during the show's run. It was bad enough that certain questions were asked but never answered, but drastic errors made some people wonder if the writers were getting lazy or there was a deeper meaning. The consensus in the end was the former.

The dream theory also gets some credence because of the Sixth Season's forced "happy ending" in the church for the main characters. The story and show premise did a 180 DEGREE turn on the adamant "this is not set in hell or purgatory" show runner promise to an after life after show.

This current science study may be a small point in the larger picture of what we do not know about ourselves. Likewise, it also shows how much we still do not know about LOST, the series.