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It's black and white: TV influences your dreams
10:52 17 October 2008 by David Robson For similar stories, visit the The Human Brain Topic Guide

The moment when Dorothy passes out in monochrome Kansas and awakes in Technicolor Oz may have been more significant than you'd ever imagined. A new study reveals that children exposed to black-and-white film and TV are more likely to dream in greyscale throughout their life. Opinions have been divided on the colour of dreams for almost a century. Studies from 1915 through to the 1950s suggested that the vast majority of dreams are in black and white. But the tides turned in the 60s, and later results suggested that up to 83% of dreams contain some colour. Since this period also marked the transition between black-and-white film and TV and widespread Technicolor, an obvious explanation was that the media had been priming the subjects' dreams, but differences between the studies prevented the researchers from drawing any firm conclusions. Whereas the later studies asked subjects to complete dream diaries as soon as they awoke, the earlier research used questionnaires completed in the middle of the day, so the subjects may have simply forgotten colour elements to their dreams and assumed they were greyscale.

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21 January 2012

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Different generations
To lay the debate to rest, Eva Murzyn from the University of Dundee, UK, has incorporated both methods into one study. She first asked 60 subjects - half of whom were under 25 and half of whom were over 55 - to answer a questionnaire on the colour of their dreams and their childhood exposure to film and TV. The subjects then recorded different aspects of their dreams in a diary every morning. Murzyn found there was no significant difference between results drawn from the questionnaires and the dream diaries - suggesting that the previous studies were comparable. She then analysed her own data to find out whether an early exposure to black-and-white TV could still have a lasting effect on her subjects dreams, 40 years later.

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Imprinted minds
Only 4.4% of the under-25s' dreams were black and white. The over-55s who'd had access to colour TV and film during their childhood also reported a very low proportion of just 7.3%. But the over-55s who had only had access to black-and-white media reported dreaming in black and white roughly a quarter of the time. "There could be a critical period in our childhood when watching films has a big impact on the way dreams are formed," she says. Even though they would have spent only a few hours a day watching TV or films, their attention and emotional engagement would have been heightened during this time, leaving a deeper imprint on their mind. However, Murzyn concedes it's still impossible to verify whether the dreams are actually in black-and-white, or whether media exposure somehow alters the way the mind reconstructs the dreams once we wake.

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In Future
Fri Oct 17 12:46:07 BST 2008 by Helgar

Speed limit for birds could mean better UAVs
17:30 20 January 2012

Does this mean with the future advent of 3d tv people will dream in 3d.

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A mathematical model suggests that birds or unmanned aerial vehicles will always crash when flying at certain speeds in a built-up environment see all latest news

In Future
Sun Oct 19 12:50:17 BST 2008 by Peter M

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Don't people already dream in 3D? Perhaps as a product of playing 3D games in my later childhood, I experience and recall all of my dreams in 3D (and colour). The same goes for my memories and thought processes in general, where applicable; if I've visited a location, I can revisit in in my mind and view it from different angles, zoom in, zoom out and move around as though it was a 3D model in a computer, and when I think about things, whether it's the forces at work in a glacier or the best way to stack some boxes, I work with 3D models of the problem in my head. There's also an internal physics model at work, so I can mentally 'feel' the weight and strength of an object in one of these 3D scenes and gauge the force required to move it or damage it. It's not as rigorous as a CAD package and I couldn't design a suspension bridge in my head, but it gives me a feel for the physical world that some other people seem to lack.

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In Future
Sun Oct 19 15:01:42 BST 2008 by Igal

Outsider physicists and the oh-mygod particle

In the future we'll probably dream in HD.

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Mon Oct 20 18:54:44 BST 2008 by Eva Murzyn

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Most dreams are in 3D and HD - unless someone spends their life looking at highly pixellated 2D games or grahics. The 3D quality of dreams is visible from their spatial layout, though, rather than the exact visual details - if you can walk around a table in a dream, it is generated in 3D.

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Wizard Of Oz
Fri Oct 17 13:10:30 BST 2008 by Blanche

This movie is highly overated. I can't believe that a so-called serious website would devote an entire article to it. Please Newscientist! do the right thing and stop creating articles like this.

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Wizard Of Oz
Fri Oct 17 15:30:18 BST 2008 by Bob L

The article is nothing to do with the movie, which is of passing relevance and so gets a brief mention.

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Tv: An Influence?
Fri Oct 17 13:26:06 BST 2008 by Matthew

I can't understand how TV could have such an effect. Surely in terms of exposure time, we get much more 'colour' visual stimuli from the world we see than any from the TV?

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Tv: An Influence?
Fri Oct 17 17:44:28 BST 2008 by Jeremy

We do, but dreams are different. When we dream, reality-checking is suspended and the mind is connecting various memory inputs as they bounce around. It's like a keyboard input to your computer: if you input random electrical signals to the wire the computer will interpret it as letters, although the words they form usually don't make sense. Perhaps when we watch TV, reality reality checking is also suspended (it helps) and it is these TV images and themes that are not verified by reality that get bounced around more when we sleep and dream. Emotional content also seems to get bounced around in dreams more than factual things. Again, this is content that carries an element of guesswork where conclusions can't be verified by reality.

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Tv: An Influence?
Fri Oct 17 21:09:33 BST 2008 by Martin Dodds

Of course, the article states Ã¢â ¬Ë the over-55s reported dreaming in black and white roughly a quarter of the timeâ ⠬⠢, thus, roughly three quarters of the time they experienced colour-dreams. Tv had an 'influence' !!

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