HUMAN EVOLUTION – HAS DREAMING HAD AN IMPACT ON IT?

Lower Sixth Former Oliver has dreaming on his mind for his EPQ (Extended Project Qualification).

From Oliver: ‘Whether you’re religious or an atheist, most people would accept the theory of evolution. This extensive topic of where and who we came from has been debated and talked about by priests and scientists ever since the publication of On the Origin of Species written by Charles Darwin in 1859. Ever since I first learnt about this topic there has always been a lingering question in the back of my semi-evolved head ‘have we always dreamed?’ It turns out that humans have possessed the ability to dream by using theta rhythm, ever since Homo Habilis (our first species) that dates back 2.4 million years ago. Although this theory is still up for debate, if it turns out to be true, then we can make a link between dreaming and its importance towards evolution.

As I dug deeper into this topic, I found a study that was performed on rats. Here, two rats (that came from the same mother) were each tested on their muscle memory, instinctive abilities and sight. They both scored very similarly. After this, for a period of two weeks, one rat was allowed to live a normal life, whilst the other’s sleep cycle was limited and interrupted, however, it still got the same amount of sleep as the other rat (in hours). After around three days the same tests were performed on both rats as at the start of the project. The results showed that the rat whose sleep was constantly interrupted scored significantly lower in all aspects, although it still received the same number of hours sleep as the other. This pointed to question if dreaming is directly linked to species survival.

With my EPQ, I hope to answer this question to not only myself, but to those whose minds carry the same dreamy behaviour as my own.’

We look forward to seeing Oliver presenting her full EPQ later this year. Click here to find out more about EPQs at Downside.

Outside of the classroom, Oliver is part of St John’s Community, the Maths Society, the Knowles Society and is also a Library Prefect.