Stickgold has reinvigorated sleep research by investigating the borderlands of consciousness with a series of novel experiments.
I wrote briefly about one of my favourites in Mind Hacks (the book):
An ingenious study published in Science did manage to investigate the role of some of the deeper brain structures in hypnagogia, specifically the medial temporal lobes which are particularly linked to memory function. The researchers asked five patients who had suffered medial temporal lobe damage to play several hours of Tetris. Damage to this area of the brain often causes amnesia, and the patients in this study had little conscious memory for more than a few minutes at a time. On one evening, some hours after their last game, the players were woken up just as they started to doze and were asked for their experiences. Although they had no conscious memory of playing the game, all of the patients mentioned images of falling, rotating Tetris blocks. This has given us some strong evidence that the hypnagogic state may be due (at least in part) to unconscious memories appearing as unusual hypnagogic experiences.
Michel Gondry is best known for being discovered by Bj√∂rk (no, not that one), directing a clutch of essential music videos (including The Chemical Brothers’ startling Let Forever Be), and moving into big cinema.
His biggest cinema success to date is Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind which has become a modern mind-bending classic with its feat firmly in cognitive science.
Gondry’s new movie, The Science of Sleep, also explores the mind’s outer reaches.
The pair discuss how psychology and art have tackled sleep, and how the logic of causation gets warped by both science and dreaming.