Nielsen & Kuiken (2013): Dream-enacting and mirror behaviorsPosted: September 15, 2013
Dream-enacting behaviors (DEBs) are behavioral expressions of forceful dream images
often occurring during sleep-to-wakefulness transitions. We propose that DEBs reflect brain activity underlying social cognition, in particular, motor-affective resonance generated by the mirror neuron system. We developed a Mirror Behavior Questionnaire (MBQ) to assess some dimensions of mirror behaviors and investigated relationships between MBQ scores and DEBs in a large of university undergraduate cohort. MBQ scores were normally distributed and described by a four-factor structure (Empathy/Emotional Contagion, Behavioral Imitation, Sleepiness/Anger Contagion, Motor Skill Imitation). DEB scores correlated positively with MBQ total and factor scores even with social desirability, somnambulism and somniloquy controlled. Emotion-specific DEB items correlated with corresponding emotion-specific MBQ items, especially crying and smiling. Results provide preliminary evidence for cross-state relationships between propensities for dream-enacting and mirror behaviors—especially behaviors involving motor-affective resonance—and our suggestion that motor-affective resonance mediates dream-enactment imagery during sleep and emotional empathy during waking.