In parenting books, Buzzfeed quizzes, and even dating apps, the concept of the left brain and the right brain divides people into simple binaries: creative vs. organized, emotional vs. factual. The science of the human brain, however, tells us that this is a vastly more complex place.

An LSA researcher is leading a lab that is studying brain communication, including the ways that the two hemispheres interact and how that interaction might be related to neurodegenerative disorders and memory loss. Through this research, Professor Omar Ahmed’s lab has discovered how running and REM sleep cause the left and right brain to communicate in a very specific way—something that could have implications for people living with Alzheimer’s disease.

Dreams could hold clues to the research. “We still don’t know the function of dreams, and we don’t know what ends up forming the content of our dreams,” says Ahmed, an associate professor of psychology, neuroscience, and biomedical engineering, who was recently recognized by the U-M Provost’s Neuroscience Scholars Committee. “But our interest in dreaming comes from trying to understand brain regions that are really important for memory.”

Ahmed says that a person’s experiences during the day likely inform what gets remembered during dreaming. And while non-REM sleep has been connected to memory consolidation, REM sleep, or the dream state, is still filled with possibility.

Read the complete article in LSA Magazine