When I was in early highschool Batman the Animated Series was the shiznet. Everyone I know watched it. Mind you, I also lived in the boondocks and there was a limited selection of what we could watch. Three channels on a good day!
It was well written and very ‘adult’ for a kids show. I tended to take a lot of what they said at face value because of the way it was presented. I’m sure I’m not the only one. Here’s an example: You cannot read in a dream because it’s a function of the left side of the brain. Dreams are a function of the right. This is how Batman broke out of the ‘Inception’ Dream within a dream episode where the Mad Hatter creates a never ending dream world to keep him imprisoned. Apologies if the video below makes you go to Youtube to see it, it was the only copy I could find.
I believed this was true for years. I repeated it to others and helped spread this misinformation. Batman said so! When did Batman ever lie? Well, first of all he mixed up the two. The left side of the brain is the one that’s always been associated with logical tasks and the right side is the one associated with raw creativity. So there’s that.
Then there’s the fact that…I read in my dreams all the time. Signs, newspapers, books, whatever. They have all appeared in my dreams and reading them was no big deal. Ermahgerd! I’m a freak! Only, not really. There’s plenty of anecdotal evidence to suggest reading in dreams is not at all uncommon.
Anyhoo, the truth is that we don’t really know where dreams come from. Not with any certainty. There hasn’t been very much serious research done on the subject. Researchers in Switzerland produced a paper in 2004 that suggested that they had found one possible location for the formation of dreams. This happened by chance when a 73 year old woman had a stroke affecting that area of her brain. Side effect of stroke: Her dreams stopped. REM sleep continued as usual, but her dreams were absent according to brain scans. REM sleep and dreams are connected, but they are not the same thing and they originate in different parts of the brain. This had the unexpected side effect of busting another popular myth : That humans will die if they can’t dream.
“How dreams are generated, and what purpose they might serve, are completely open questions at this point.”
Dr Claudio Bassetti, of the Department of Neurology at the University Hospital of Zurich in Switzerland
During dreams, and the rest of the time too, brain activity isn’t localized on one side or the other. The brain just doesn’t work that way. The left side/right side explanation of brain activity has some basis in reality but is wildly over simplified. There are specialized areas of the brain, which work with other specialized areas of the brain and everything between hemispheres is interconnected through the corpus callosum. And hundreds of millions of nerve clusters. There’s a whole lot of communication going on between both sides of your brain. All the time.
“Sure, we have two hemispheres that operate fine independently and have different abilities, but they are massively interconnected and work together as a seamless whole (providing you have never had surgery to cut your corpus callosum).”
Dr Steven Novella, Academic neurologist at Yale University School of Medicine
We’re not dolphins. We don’t sleep with one side of the brain at a time. And the functions of our brain are not neatly segregated into conveniently coloured portions of the brain. The whole thing is a mess. A mess we haven’t completely figured out yet. But from what we do know, there’s no reason why one shouldn’t be able to read in one’s dreams.
Damn you, Bruce Wayne.