Oneirology: Your Dreams & How they work

Technical Process Scope & Description

If you’re reading this, it’s because you’re on the journey of exploring your subconscious and the intricacies of its energy. In layman’s terms? Dreams while you sleep, and what your brain does while you do it! Dreaming is very complex and can be an explorative hobby to take up, in terms of analyzing and even gaining control of them. However, this is an explanation as to the scientific study of dreams; oneirology. Process descriptions on dreaming and its analysis will be described. This information may be helpful for those curious as to why some are able to remember theirs after they wake up.

The intended audience for this process description is general with an interest in brain functionality and research. The targeted reader would have a high school education or above, and will learn about the brain in its dream state. Furthermore, methods to analyze these brain patterns will also be described. A basic knowledge of biology and anatomy is also helpful for this reader.

Technical Process Introduction

Dreaming is not simply resorted to the processes in which scientists used to think happens to the mind during sleep; simply coping with traumatic experiences and purely reacting to emotional experiences. Dreaming, a combination of many psychiatric thought, are the visuals and feelings experienced during various brain activity, usually during REM (rapid eye movement) sleep.

The Process

Snow White & 7 Dwarves by Franz Shrotzberg

1) Sleep
This is generally the first step in achieving the goal of having a dream. All mammals dream and their brains control the process. During sleep, various functions (like swallowing/saliva production and bladder) are temporarily shut down.

2) REM Sleep & the Brain
Since REM sleep occurs about every 90 to 120 minutes, and the brain activity being most similar to that of the awakened state, this is generally the phase in which many dreams can be recalled. During this stage of sleep, the muscles are relaxed, aside from any dreamer’s muscle movement(ex. twitching), the body temperature fluctuates, and the heart rate increases.

Rapid eye movement. It’s simple and named appropriately, as the eyes are moving at an increased rate, due to visual cortex neurons in the eye. 

Cortical surface with an overlay of the basal ganglia and thalamus
Cortical surface with an overlay of the basal ganglia and thalamus

The pons-thalamus-occuipal cortex, or pons-thalamus cortex (Sensory Association Cortex), activates when the pons-lateral geniculate (Globus Pallidus), sends waves from the pons, to the geniculate section, and through the thalamus. This starts the REM and imagery (dreaming). 

So let’s review this stage:

  1. Your eyes are moving really fast
  2. Your muscles are relaxed (near paralysis)
  3. Your heart rate is increased
  4. Your body temperature fluctuates (so sometimes that blanket is needed or thrown off to the side)
  5. Your body will physically react in other ways (but whether or not something is actually exciting is not always so)
  6. Your thalamus beings to produce various patterns that form images
  7. These images come from PTO section, up the occipital lobe and through thalamus

Process Analyzed

Research conducted by a team at the Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International, recorded various brain activity of three adult males during a voluntary sleep study.

An MRI scan is magnetic resonance imaging, a technique that combines magnetic and radio waves to imprint on parts of the human body, as the subject. The researchers were able to do the same by scanning the brain tissue of the subjects in the study during and when awakened from their dreams.

US Navy 030819-N-9593R-228 Civilian technician, Jose Araujo watches as a patient goes through a Magnetic Resonance Imaging, (MRI) machine
Civilian technician, Jose Araujo watches as a patient goes through a Magnetic Resonance Imaging, (MRI) machine

An MRI machine is used to conduct an MRI scan, and the volunteers, most likely were told to drink plenty of water beforehand. Most MRIs are performed after 4 to 6 hours without eating or drinking. Sleep deprivation (the volunteer’s sleep was interrupted over 200 times! ) and dehydration don’t tend to mix well.

The sleep study was conducted in the following manner:

  • The volunteers fell asleep
  • The volunteers were awakened (sleep cycle interrupted) during the early stages of sleep (about the beginning of REM cycle)
  • The volunteers were told to recall the images they saw while sleeping
  • After each patient was awakened, the researchers immediately asked for a recall of the various images they saw in their dreams. Some saw people, parts of a building, furniture and some in black and white.
Brain MRI
(brain in normal state)

In preparation for the results the researchers:

  • Divided the objects into various categories (such as street, furniture, girl)
  • The volunteers entered the MRI machine once more
  • Algorithms (rules or commands) within the computer paired each pattern that appeared in the subject, with the objects recollected
  • Each object pattern would match with various patterns found during the dreaming stage

For a majority of people, the average sleep cycle is about 7 hours or less, and this single uninterrupted cycle can lead to various dream segments momentarily paused before the next one occurs. The reason why some dreamers are able to remember their dreams without external prompting, may lie in part of their own brain chemistry; the more creative a person is, the more vivid their dreams and longer they can recall. Each recollection has a window of 20 seconds to a minute before the dream falls away from the person’s memory.


In the case of this process, the dreaming stage is a product of brain waves that can be analyzed for future studies and imagery analysis. The analysis stage uses magnetic and radio waves to imprint on the brain and its waves, to produce the scan.
If you are curious about being able to see your dreams outside of your dreams, you don’t need an MRI machine to do it! Plenty of dreamers have painted, drawn, or written about their dreams. Even photography has its surrealist capabilities due to modern technology. And due to the latter, oneirology research is only becoming more of a fruitful and intricate process for those curious on the brain and its dreaming state.

 Reference Visuals

By Colder B [CC BY 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

By Nevit Dilmen (talk) and Tekks (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Access a full write-up of this process in print form.

Web-Based Writing: Music

A master post for various web-based writing skills gained during my time with Cliché Magazine.

Upcoming Artist Magazine Feature  – Country 

Upcoming Artist Magazine Feature – Pop

Upcoming Artist Magazine Feature – R&B

Best Soundtracks of 2017” (Opinion)

Trending Music Mash-Ups (2017)

Artists We Hope Drop in 2018 

“Lust for Life” Album Review Blog – Indie Pop 

“Double Dutchess” Album Review Blog – Pop

Upcoming Artist of 2018 & her New EP (2018) 

“The State of Music: Physical to Digital” (Opinion) 

Artists to Know: Twin Peaks Edition (2017) 

“War & Leisure” Album Review Blog – R&B

“Artists We Wish Would Collab” (2018)

“Four Artists Who Should Try Another Genre” (Opinion) 

Upcoming Mexican Artist & European Tour (2017)

Artist News & Tragedy (2017)

Memorable Benefit Concerts (2017 – Opinion)

“5 Artists to See at Firefly” (2017 – Opinion)

Indie Artists You Should Know (2017 – Opinion) 

“One More Light” Album Review Blog – Rock

“Singles That Give Us More to Come” (2017 – Opinion)

“YouTube Covers We’re Loving (2017 – Opinion) 

“Number 1 Angel” Album Review Blog – Pop

“5 Independent Artists to Watch” (2017 – Opinion)

“Nightride vs. Joyride” Artist News/Review Blog – Pop/R&B

Social Media Copy

A documentation and samples of social media copy curated for Hippocampus Magazine, an online nonfiction publication based in Harrisburg, PA

Assignment – Tease an author’s interview or article with an interesting quote, and summarize their feature for a Facebook Post. 


Kate Walter

Teaser quote:

I think being different, being gay (even before I came out to myself), saved me and propelled me forward. Now I need to find the container for that storyline and a thread to stitch my past to the present.

Interview: Kate Walter, author of Looking for a Kiss

Written Overview:
How a writer’s experiences in the dating world, is so familiar to even the perfect stranger. Kate Walter shares her thoughts on her memoir and where her story will lead next.

Sharon Kurtzman
Teaser quote:
At the table, I dunked and munched but soon froze when I spotted one of the washed wine glasses shattered on the floor beside the garbage pail.
No one had been in the kitchen but me.

The Writing Life: The Ghost Reader by Sharon Kurtzman, Guest Columnist

Written overview:
Guest columnist Sharon Kurtzman, humorously crafts an anxious, and invisible reader craving more during a writer’s spooky residency.


Tom Farr
Teaser quote:
Storytelling is an evolutionary process. So write your first draft, but don’t let that be where your story ends. Dig deeper, get feedback, trust the process… and may the force be with you.

CRAFT: What Star Wars Can Teach Us About Storytelling by Tom Farr, Guest Columnist

Written overview:
Guest columnist Tom Farr bestows the stagnant writer with tips to push their story to galactic proportions.



Written overview:
Hannah Straton peers into White Matter, by Janet Sternburg, who writes of the dynamics of a Jewish family, post-lobotomy



Andy Harper

Teaser quote:
But this year, she would receive two long-stemmed red roses (the most I could afford),…The inscription within the card would read simply, “Will you be my Valentine?” She wasn’t there.

Written overview:
Andy Harper recalls his first time in the friend zone, during a Valentine’s Day exchange with his 6th-grade crush.




Melissa Knackmuhs Kiefer

Teaser quote:
You weigh 214 lbs. Your bulletproof vest weighs 4 lbs. and 5 oz. Your duty belt weighs 14 lbs. and 13 oz. Some days, I want to know the weight of all the things you carry.

The Police Officer’s Wife by Melissa Knackmuhs Kiefer

Written overview:
Knackmuhs Kiefer’s words to a nameless officer in the second person, reads of a will to survive the union between two people, despite the danger.







Patricia Perry Donovan

Teaser quote:
Most children sucked their thumb. Not mine. At the first divination of stress—I swear that child could sense when her father was due home—up went her index finger, like a sailor gauging the wind’s course…It was second nature for Della, soothing herself that way.

Written overview:
Patricia Perry Donovan writes of a mother and daughter hurrying to achieve true freedom and stability in the rocky Sandias.

Copy & Scripts

A master post for various script-writing skills gained during my time in communications courses at Elizabethtown College.

Copy-writing Campaign for student improv group, Mad Cow: Copy-writing Campaign Script (30)


VO-SOT: Student Senate Funds

Promotional Web Video Treatment & Script: WEB VIDEO TREATMENT & SCRIPT


News Release & Backgrounder: Local College

TV EpisodeTV Script – American Horror Story – From Fort to Hotel

Social Media CopyFacebook, Hippocampus Magazine

Published Creative Writing: A Fish & a Figure

A revisit to a childhood dream – a toy comes alive and the subconscious is still.

This sample is an example of a published fictional work. The skills employed in this piece are narrative expression using surreal-like descriptions. It featured in the 2014 edition of Fine Print, now named Vox, the literary magazine at Elizabethtown College. 

The layout of the apartment is that of a block ‘S’ in a game of Tetris. The walls are white and hurriedly painted. The carpet is as blue as the Caribbean Sea and the dolls and giant Lego blocks float upon the threads. From the front hall, the view pans a right, into the soft peach and salmon pink bathroom. The faucet is wet and spotted with water and Crest for Kids toothpaste.

A lone toothbrush sits on the toilet cover, while an empty tub leaves the presences of a very soapy person. Around three feet tall, she uses her tiny hands to pull back the translucent shower curtains farther back. The single incandescent light bulb, shines over everything in the room. As she uses her hands to pick up the toys around the side of the tub, she looks around for the blue fish she always liked to swim with in the Johnson & Johnson’s infused water. A strange feeling comes over her, as she looks up at the pink linoleum wall and sees the blue fish emerging slowly out of the wall. It swims right through the air, as if it suddenly thickened with the molasses she dreamed of eating while her mother isn’t looking.

The fish continues to make its rounds around the whole apartment. It weaves through the living room, through the toys, the tricycle and the wagon that lay below. It makes its way to the bedroom door and swims right through it. She follows, and opens the door only to find the fish hovering over her sleigh bed. She stands underneath it and looks up.

In the fish’s place was a dark shadow – no face, no indication that it was anything of this world. Then again, there was a fish swimming around her apartment. The shadowy black figure looks deep into the little girl’s bewildered and large brown eyes and draws out a long finger. The prickly and bony finger somehow finds its way to her nose and pushes her back.

Instead of falling into the sea of carpet, she finds herself hovering over her parent’s bed. The light of the morning sun peering through the bars attached to the windows. The windows leave room for another ray light to cast over her eyes. She turns and faces towards the white ceiling, slowly floating back down, as light as her own dolls, into the threads and lavender-scented sheets. After making sure her body is firmly non-levitating, she carries her feet out the bedroom, hopping over the dolls, nearly tripping over the wagon, and finally towards the bathroom. The blue fish sits calmly at the top of the bucket of bath toys, as if it never swam, nor looked at her with unknown purpose.

The shadowy figure follows her only in the light, sans a bony figure.

College Coverage (The Etownian) II

“Team committed to innovating marketing, communications strategies”

By Ragina Lashley


“The moment of truth. Elizabethtown College.” All of Etown’s prospective students buzzed about theirs when it was received in the mail. Everyone who earned acceptance into the College discovered that single white envelope protruding from their mailbox. As they opened the trademark blue envelope and devoured the white lettering in the center, it was the moment that some just knew that Elizabethtown was where they’d spend the next four years.

For the Office of Marketing & Communications (OMC), that moment originated from a commitment to quality and innovation, which Integrated Marketing Manager Donna Talarico said aimed to “make the students feel special…let them know what we’re all about.”

So far in 2013, OMC has earned 10 awards from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) for the branding and project work they submitted (See News-Page 1). Their office is the center of all the College’s communications and where in-house publications such as the Bird Guide, the Elizabethtown Magazine, the viewbook, materials for prospective students, directories, and all social media and website design and management originate.

Committed to innovating the College’s communications, OMC is careful to ensure that all changes to their designs are efficient and purposeful. Most recently, the College’s website received an overhaul. Digital design manager Danilo Yabut bid adieu to the past header and footer and added new elements such as the “Wild Card Navigation,” a system to highlight events and departments on campus. Another change was made to the calendar system which proved to be an arduous process of figuring out a way to “[get] everyone to used the system.” Yabut said that his mantra in regard to the analytics aspect of his job is that “if something isn’t performing, get rid of it.”

As for the social media aspect of communications, Donna Talarico has single-handedly changed the face of Etown College by connecting with students, alumni, faculty, staff and prospectives via the web. Talarico keeps a “finger on the pulse,”ensuring that information is kept up-to-date and available for all to access through Facebook, Twitter, etc.
Talarico’s work has appeared in a variety of projects, including the view-book for Etown’s recruitment package.


The view-book’s development took approximately three months and included Yabut’s coordination of the photo shoots, Sheaffer’s visual designs and Talarico’s profiles. Talarico makes certain that her words possess clever and playful tones but still allow her to “portray [Etown] as serious, yet a fun place.” The branding video, which won a Silver CASE award for “Video Features” and a Bronze Telly Award, was a “great pride point,” Talarico said, because she “got to write the script and learn a different type of writing … [and] be a lot more concise.” Talarico’s aim to connect with the audience can be described as “being real and authentic…. We can’t always take ourselves too seriously.”
Cassie Meade, a junior graphic design intern at OMC, speaks of Sheaffer as “an extremely talented designer, and it is a privilege to be able to work with and learn from her.”
Sheaffer devotes careful consideration to the layout of a document, specifically adhering to a formula but still using the theme of “redefined” to maintain a positive image of the College. “We don’t do things just to do them,” said Sheaffer. “We have [the client’s] goals and objectives, so we figure out a solution, and that’s when we brainstorm … Every new job is a new project.”
When designing the College magazine, Sheaffer aims for something fresh and entertaining while still educating the magazine’s subscribers. Recent changes to the magazine have included varnishing, a tactile design element that creates a velvet-smooth cover and makes it difficult to put down. “By changing the paper, the way it folds, you can change the way a piece [feels],” Sheaffer stated.
Yabut’s favorite project so far has been “Battle of the Blues”, an Etown and Messiah College alumni challenge that raises donations for their respective alma maters. Yabut considered it “very successful.”
Concerning OMC’s recent success with the CASE awards, Yabut called them “amusing,” as he says the team is Type A in nature. “We won most, except for one … We reveled in the moment, but think, ‘How can I make that piece better?’”
“I think we screamed,” said Sheaffer. “Having that feeling of accomplishment was really great.”
Talarico said that receiving the awards was “such an achievement; with each additional one, we knew we did good work … [It was] a validation by our peers.”
The team doesn’t think of their job as theirs alone; they recognize the value of the interns that work with them, and also that of each other. Sheaffer stated her opinion on the importance of internship at the office: “We have our contributing writers for the magazine, the photography for the view-book, and our project managers. It’s important to give students the opportunity to understand criticism … a real-world learning experience, preparing them for graduation, [as it’s] valuable to take away and put on their resumés.”
Yabut said of his time at the OMC: “[I’m] satisfied with the group dynamic, but we wish for more time … but we’re going to do the best job we possibly can do. The work ethic here is great … the team, the willingness is great. Other places are cutthroat.”
Having only been together for approximately two years, the OMC’s work reflects their ultimate goal: to unify and portray the College as a pioneering environment of growth and success for all who come in contact with it.

Originally published for The Etownian here 

    College Coverage (The Etownian) I

    “Intolerance 4 Intolerance’ forum held in Gibble”

    By Ragina Lashley

    A campus-wide forum , “Intolerance 4 Intolerance,” was held in Gibble Auditorium on Wednesday, April 3 at 11 a.m. The event was part of the efforts to curb the prejudices against students, and to encourage a commitment to tolerance and inclusion at Elizabethtown College.

    Attendees were a mixture of students, staff, faculty and members of the Etown community. Each person was free to take turns sharing experiences, opinions or asking questions of the panel, including those within the Office of the President, and campus groups such as Student Senate, NOIR, Allies and the Latino Student Union.

    Vice President of the Student Senate Executive Cabinet senior Kristen Lacaillade and President of the Executive Cabinet junior Robert Graham were approached by Marianne Calenda, dean of students, and President Strikwerda with a forum with Student Senate. The forum would be a follow-up to the last forum event, held in Hoover. Only this time, in addition to being another open discussion, the forum would update the audience on the cases that have been reported on campus. It would also be an opportunity to reassure the community of the steps being taken to discontinue the acts of bias.

    Amy Mountain, director of the Office of Marketing and Communications, with Calenda and Strikwerda, came up with the concept for the event, as well as its title.
    During the forum, Calenda revealed that expressions of hate related to race, sexuality and gender had risen in locations such as the Thompson Gym. The racial incidents initially occurred on whiteboards in various residence halls.

    Of all 20 incidents, only two are classified as hate crimes. One, consisting of an etching on a bathroom stall, is classified as vandalism. Calenda stated that such information will be given “if it helps those understand it’s not a joke.” However, President Strikwerda, during the forum and a campus-wide email last week, reiterated the decision to withhold the nature of the incidents, stating, “It serves no purpose to publish the specific words or comments; to do so is hurtful to the victim and gives unnecessary public exposure to the perpetrator.” Calenda also acknowledged that there is hesitation to focus on the hate, and said she has no intention to have the victims experience it again.

    The forum featured a variety of statements from both students and staff. Jesse Waters, visiting assistant professor of English and director of Bowers Writers House, shared a poem titled “Horses” by Moshe Bennarroch, and briefly mentioned being affected by prejudice. Assistant Professor of Sociology Dr. Rita Shah and Professor of Religion and Asian Studies Dr. Jeffrey Long posed solutions, such as removing those who commit such acts against others, and making clear not only the differences among people on campus, but also the similarities as a reminder of our purpose in order to create a community at Etown.”

    “[Information] is needed for a better understanding,” junior Rustin Dudley said, speaking of her interactions with those disconnected from the issue due to lack of details given to students. Diarra Molock, a first-year, suggested a class within the core program providing a general education on diversity within society. Dealing with micro-aggression, sophomore Bruchette Myrtil, president of NOIR, suggested that campus community members “be honest and speak up.”
    Other faculty members, such as Director of Diversity Diane Elliot said, “It’s bothersome when people aren’t outraged … it makes it seem as if human dignity is okay to violate.” Nancy Florey, associate vice president for human resources at Etown, stated: “We need to take the campus back.”
    Lacaillade hoped that the event brought more awareness of the issue: She said, “Everyone in our community is affected by this one way or another and it’s important to make that aware as well.” On how Intolerance 4 Intolerance reflected on the College, Lacaillade continued that apart from the less than ideal circumstances, “I think it’s important to note that the attention being paid to the way in which the administration is handling it is extremely important. I feel as though if more people paid attention to the progress, and proactive steps being taken to address these issues, and less to the incidents themselves, then we will all be able to move forward and support one another.”

    Originally published for The Etownian here