Do you dream in colored pictures?

In the 1950s people said they dreamed  mostly in black and white. Today, the vast majority say they dream in color. Did our grandparents have brains that were very different from our own? In a review of the book Perplexities of Consciousness by Eric Schwitzgebel, Nicholas Humphrey in the New York Times Book Review of July 31, 2011, writes:

“Suppose that, not knowing quite what dreams are like, we tend to assume they must be like photographs or movies — pictures in the head. Then, when asked whether we dream in color we reach for the most readily available pictorial analogy. Understandably, 60 years ago this might have been black and white movies, while for most of us today it is the color version. But here’s the thing. Neither analogy is necessarily the “right” one. Dreams don’t have to be pictures of any kind at all. They could be simply thoughts — and thoughts, even thoughts about color, are neither colored nor non-colored in themselves.”

I’m giving short shrift to the review and the book. Both are about variations in seeing and its interpretation. What do we really know about what’s going on in our minds? Just maybe, not much.

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One comment on “Do you dream in colored pictures?
  1. In the early 1950s, I used to have a nightmare every night. It was said at the time that we all dreamed in black and white, but my nightmare (always the same one) was in colour. I was absolutely sure about that, although I couldn’t precisely remember the colours while awake. The strange thing about this nightmare was that it was like an animation film in a child’s drawings, a woman’s skirt being a triangle, for example. It was also a premonitory dream, as it turned out, but that’s another story.

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