John Allan Hobson
Allan Hobson in Vermont (July 2016)
Born (1933-06-03) June 3, 1933 (age 87)
Alma materWesleyan University, Harvard Medical School
Known forResearch on Rapid eye movement sleep, Activation-synthesis hypothesis
Scientific career
FieldsPsychiatry and dream research

John Allan Hobson (born June 3, 1933) is an American psychiatrist and dream researcher. He is known for his research on rapid eye movement sleep. He is Professor of Psychiatry, Emeritus, Harvard Medical School, and Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.


Hobson grew up in Hartford, Connecticut.[1] In 1955 he obtained his A.B. degree from Wesleyan University. Four years later he earned his MD degree at Harvard Medical School in 1959.

For the following two years he interned at Bellevue Hospital Center, New York. Then in 1960, he was a resident in Psychiatry at Massachusetts Mental Health Center in Boston for a year. Hobson then traveled to France where he was a Special Fellow of the National Institute of Mental Health for the Department of Physiology at the University of Lyon.

Upon returning to the United States, he went back to the Psychiatry at Massachusetts Mental Health Center in Boston until 1966.

He worked in numerous hospitals and research laboratories over the years and became the Director of the Laboratory of Neurophysiology at the Massachusetts Mental Health Center.[2]

Hobson has received four awards for his work:[1]

Dr. Hobson's sense of humor is shown in such quips as: “The only known function of sleep is to cure sleepiness".[3]


Dream theories

Hobson's research specialty is quantifying mental events and correlating them with quantified brain events, with special reference to waking, sleeping and dreaming. Hobson's recent work[4][5] puts forward the idea that during dreaming, different aspects of the conscious mind; Primary consciousness and Secondary consciousness, diverge from a unified qualia enter a self-referential interplay where by one constantly creates the environment of another. In this way, the secondary consciousness performs the role of the dream environment itself, with the primary consciousness, not usually involved in self-awareness in waking life, becomes the object of conscious identity.

This process transpires for multiple reasons, but the primary one suggested is as a means to reductively simplify and stabilise the ideas learned in waking consciousness to less computationally complex ones, to improve overall system stability and reduce computational entropy, or free energy. Free energy is proposed by Hobson and Friston[5] to correlate with capacity for an organism to experience shock or surprise. Thus, for humans, the process of daily learning becomes unsustainable without a corresponding process to revert from these neuroplastic increases in complexity. Hobson has been critical of the idea that there are deep, nonphysiological, or hidden meanings in dreams, calling such notions "the mystique of fortune cookie dream interpretation." He has since used less confrontational phrasing in his critiques of Freud,[6] and has produced much academic work supporting the notion that dreams may contain analytically useful information,[7] just not psychoanalytically useful information in a Freudian sense of the term.

Hobson asserts that dreams require no explicit training to decipher, and are certainly not encrypted to hide their meaning. Instead, as we can observe through dream reports, during REM sleep, it is emotional salience that steps into a directorial role, and the seemingly bizarre connections made within and between the scenes of dreams are trying to reveal rather than disguise whichever type of emotional salience we have associated with new, unpredicted sensory impressions with which we have been bombarded during waking periods. However, dreams may still be enormously useful to understanding our psychological state so long as we ground our interpretations in the hard science of how dreams work at the physiological level. In this sense, the emotions and feelings experienced in a dream can be viewed as the brain's 'best attempt' to communicate information to itself in a fractured state of awareness, as a means of preparing itself for waking consciousness the following day.[8]

By exploring these emotions in an integrated state of wakeful awareness, according to Hobson, it may be possible to gain insight into what our brain was preparing itself for and why.[9]

In addition to his many paid appointments, Hobson is actively involved with four groups relating to his neurological sleep research: the Society Memberships, the Society for Neuroscience, the Society for Sleep Research, the AAAS, and the International Association for the Study of Dreams (IASD), for which he used to be president.[10]

Since 2009, he has been developing his theory of 'proto-consciousness.' According to this theory, dreaming is the most readily available representative of primary or proto-consciousness. Primary or proto-consciousness represents a relatively more primitive stage of consciousness that develops earlier in both evolutionary and ontological terms. In Psychodynamic Neurology (2015), he discusses the little-studied yet crucial role that proto-consciousness plays in overseeing and organizing the intricately complex growth of the individual, from zygote to fetus, through the trimesters in utero, and following parturition, and draws parallels with analogous phases of development in animals such as cats.


Hobson has written, co-authored, or co-edited twenty books that relate to research on dreaming and waking consciousness and on mental health. The following is a complete list:[11]


  1. ^ a b Robert, Rose (2004). "Network on Mind Body Interactions". Retrieved 2007-03-25.[dead link]
  2. ^ Dreifus, Claudia (2002-08-27). "A CONVERSATION WITH/J. Allan Hobson; A Rebel Psychiatrist Calls Out to His Profession". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-03-25.
  3. ^ Konnikova, Maria (8 July 2015). "The Work We Do While We Sleep". The New Yorker. Retrieved 17 July 2015. The Harvard sleep researcher Robert Stickgold has recalled his former collaborator J. Allan Hobson joking that the only known function of sleep is to cure sleepiness.
  4. ^ Hobson, J.A. (2009). "REM sleep and dreaming: towards a theory of proto-consciousness". Nature Reviews Neuroscience. Retrieved 2013-06-29.
  5. ^ a b Hobson, J.A. (2012). "Waking and dreaming consciousness: Neurobiological and functional considerations". Progress in Neurobiology. 98 (1): 82–98. doi:10.1016/j.pneurobio.2012.05.003. PMC 3389346. PMID 22609044.
  6. ^ Hurd, Ryan (2010). "Allan Hobson and the Neuroscience of Dreams". Retrieved 2013-06-29.
  7. ^ Gourguechon, Prudence (2009). "The Meaning of Dreams and Do Dreams have Meaning". Psychology Today. Retrieved 2013-06-29.
  8. ^ Hobson, J.A. (2015). Psychodynamic Neurology: Dreams, Consciousness, and Virtual Reality. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 9781482260557. Retrieved 2015-01-29.
  9. ^ Hobson, J.A. (2001). Out of its Mind: Psychiatry in Crisis — A Call for Reform. Perseus Publishing. ISBN 9780786748716. Retrieved 2013-12-28.
  10. ^ President and Fellows of Harvard College (2006). "Faculty Profile". Archived from the original on 8 March 2007. Retrieved 2007-03-25.
  11. ^ - browse and compare book price: J. Allan Hobson
  12. ^ "Criatividade - Creativity | ISPA | Centro de Edições". Retrieved 2017-01-11.