Original article:

The role of dreams in the evolution of the human mind

Evolutionary Psychology 3: 59-78 Michael S. Franklin, Department of Psychology, University of Michigan, 525 East University Ann Arbor, MI, 48109, USA, msfrankl@umich.eduMichael J. Zyphur, Tulane University, Department of Psychology, 2007 Percival Stern Hall, New Orleans, LA 70118, USA, mzyphur@tulane.edu


This paper presents an evolutionary argument for the role of dreams in the development of human cognitive processes. While a theory by Revonsuo (2000) proposes that dreams allow for threat rehearsal and therefore provide an evolutionary advantage, the goal of this paper is to extend this argument by commenting on other fitness-enhancing aspects of dreams. Rather than a simple threat rehearsal mechanism, it is argued that dreams reflect a more general virtual rehearsal mechanism that is likely to play an important role in the development of human cognitive capacities. This paper draws on current work in cognitive neuroscience and philosophy of mind in developing the argument.


Dreams, sleep, REM sleep, evolution, philosophy of mind, cognitive neuroscience.

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Evolutionary Psychology - An open access peer-reviewed journal - ISSN 1474-7049 © Ian Pitchford and Robert M. Young; individual articles © the author(s)

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