Psychonomic Bulletin & Review

, Volume 14, Issue 2, pp 270–276 | Cite as

Properties of the organization of memory for people: Evidence from dream reports

  • Richard Schweickert
Brief Reports


Steyvers and Tenenbaum (2005) showed that semantic networks for words have three organizational properties: short average path lengths, high clustering, and power law degree distribution. If these are general properties of memory organization, they would apply to memory for other complex material, including people and relations between them. In addition, if during dreaming, characters are generated via knowledge in the dreamer’s memory, the three properties would be found in a relational network of characters in dreams. In dream reports from three individuals, two characters in the same dream were considered affiliated. Resulting social networks have the three properties, with the power law holding when low degrees are omitted. One network with a treelike outline is different from the other two. Results suggest associative memory has the three properties, and demonstrate that dream reports are a potentially valuable source for information about social networks.


Social Network Cluster Coefficient Random Network Small World Semantic Network 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Albert, R., Jeong, H., &Barabasi, A. L. (1999). Diameter of the World Wide Web.Nature,401, 130–131.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Arkin, A. M., &Antrobus, J. S. (1991). The effects of external stimuli applied prior to and during sleep on sleep experience. In S. J. Ellman & J. S. Antrobus (Eds.),The mind in sleep: Psychology and psychophysiology (2nd ed., pp. 265–307). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  3. Barabasi, A. L., &Albert, R. (1999). Emergence of scaling in random networks.Science,286, 509–512.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Barrett, D. (2001).The committee of sleep. New York: Crown.Google Scholar
  5. Batagelj, V., &Mrvar, A. (1998). Pajek-Program for large network analysis.Connections,21, 47–57.Google Scholar
  6. Bearman, P. S., Moody, J., &Stovel, K. (2004). Chains of affection: The structure of adolescent romantic and sexual networks.American Journal of Sociology,110, 44–91.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Braun, A. R., Balkin, T. J., Wesensten, N. J., Gwadry, F., Carson, R. E., Varga, M., et al. (1998). Dissociated pattern of activity in visual cortices and their projections during human rapid eye movement sleep.Science,279, 91–95.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Brewer, D. D. (2000). Forgetting in the recall-based elicitation of personal and social networks.Social Networks,22, 29–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Collins, A. M., &Loftus, E. F. (1975). A spreading-activation theory of semantic processing.Psychological Review,82, 407–428.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Domhoff, G. W. (1996).Finding meaning in dreams: A quantitative approach. New York: Plenum.Google Scholar
  11. Domhoff, G. W. (2003).The scientific study of dreams: Neural networks, cognitive development, and content analysis. Washington, DC:American Psychological Association.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Fosse, M. J., Fosse, R., Hobson, J. A., &Stickgold, R. J. (2003). Dreaming and episodic memory: A functional dissociation?Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience,15, 1–9.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Foulkes, D. (1985).Dreaming: A cognitive-psychological analysis. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  14. Grenier, J., Cappeliez, P., St-Onge, M., Vachon, J., Vinette, S., Roussy, F., et al. (2005). Temporal references in dreams and autobiographical memory.Memory & Cognition,33, 280–288.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Hall, C. S., &Nordby, V. J. (1972).The individual and his dreams. New York: New American Library.Google Scholar
  16. Hall, C. S., &Van de Castle, R. L. (1966).The content analysis of dreams. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts.Google Scholar
  17. Hobson, J. A. (1988).The dreaming brain. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  18. Hobson, J. A., &McCarley, R. W. (1977). The brain as a dream state generator: An activation-synthesis hypothesis of the dream process.American Journal of Psychiatry,134, 1335–1348.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Johnson, N. L., Kotz, S., &Kemp, A. W. (1992).Univariate discrete distributions (2nd ed.). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  20. Killworth, P. D., &Bernard, H. R. (1976). Informant accuracy in social network data.Human Organization,35, 269–286.Google Scholar
  21. Kumbasar, E., Romney, A. K., &Batchelder, W. H. (1994). Systematic biases in social perceptions.American Journal of Sociology,100, 477–505.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. McNamara, P., McLaren, D., Smith, D., Brown, A., &Stickgold, R. (2005). A “Jekyll and Hyde” within: Aggressive versus friendly interactions in REM and non-REM dreams.Psychological Science,16, 130–136.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Milgram, S. (1967). The small world problem.Psychology Today,1, 60–67.Google Scholar
  24. Miller, G. A. (1990). WordNet: An on-line lexical database [Special issue].International Journal of Lexicography,3(4).Google Scholar
  25. Nelson, D. L., McEvoy, C. L., & Schreiber, T. A. (1999). The University of South Florida word association, rhyme, and word fragment norms. Retrieved from Scholar
  26. Newman, M. E. J. (2003). The structure and function of complex networks.SIAM Review,45, 167–256.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Newman, M. E. J., Watts, D. J., &Strogatz, S. H. (2002). Random graph models of social networks.Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,99, 2566–2572.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Nusbaum, H. C., Pisoni, D. B., &Davis, C. K. (1984). Sizing up the Hoosier Mental Lexicon: Measuring the familiarity of 20,000words. InResearch on speech perception (Progress Report No. 10). Bloomington: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
  29. Roget, P. M. (1911).Roget’s Thesaurus of English words and phrases (1911 ed.). Retrieved October 28, 2004, from etext/10681.Google Scholar
  30. Rumelhart, D. E., Lindsay, P., &Norman, D. A. (1972). A process model for long-term memory. In E. Tulving & W. Donaldson (Eds.),Organization of memory (pp. 197–246). New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  31. Schilling, M. A. (2005). A “small-world” network model of cognitive insight.Creativity Research Journal,17, 131–154.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Schneider, A., & Domhoff, G. W. (2005). DreamBank. Retrieved June 20, 2005, from Scholar
  33. Schweickert, R. (2007). The structure of semantic and phonological networks and the structure of a social network in dreams. In J. S. Nairne (Ed.),The foundations of remembering: Essays in honor of Henry L. Roediger III (pp. 283–298). Hove, U.K.: Psychology Press.Google Scholar
  34. Sporns, O., Tononi, G., &Edelman, G. M. (2000). Theoretical neuroanatomy: Relating anatomical and functional connectivity in graphs and cortical connection matrices.Cerebral Cortex,10, 127–141.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  35. Stephan, K. E., Hilgetag, C. C., Burns, G. A. P. C., O’Neill, M. A., Young, M. P., &Kotter, R. (2000). Computational analysis of functional connectivity between areas of primate cerebral cortex.Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London: Series B,355, 111–126.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Steyvers, M., &Tenenbaum, J. B. (2005). The large-scale structure of semantic networks: Statistical analysis and a model of semantic growth.Cognitive Science,29, 41–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Tsonis, P. A., &Tsonis, A. A. (2004). A “small-world” network hypothesis for memory and dreams.Perspectives in Biology & Medicine,47, 176–180.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Vitevitch, M. S. (2005).Phonological neighbors in a small world: What can graph theory tell us about word learning? Unpublished manuscript, Department of Psychology, University of Kansas.Google Scholar
  39. Wasserman, S., &Faust, K. (1994).Social network analysis: Methods and applications. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  40. Watts, D. J., &Strogatz, S. H. (1998). Collective dynamics of “smallworld” networks.Nature,393, 440–442.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  41. Zipf, G. K. (1945). The meaning-frequency relationship of words.Journal of General Psychology,33, 251–256.PubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychological SciencesPurdue UniversityWest Lafayette

Personalised recommendations