LASER Boston: Exploring the Dream World

This virtual event will delve into the biological basis of sleep, the theories on our need to dream, and how dreams enter our waking reality in visual art.

Event Details




July 29th, 2020 from 12:00pm - 1:15pm EST

On July 29th, LASER Boston is going virtual again with the next installation of the Talks series. This virtual event we will be discovering the dream world. Every night as we sleep, we enter the world of dreams. In this world, we mix fact with fiction, explore new realities, and examine our own memories. During this LASER talk you will hear from three experts in the arts and sciences on the biological basis of sleep, the theories on our need to dream, and how dreams enter our waking reality in visual art.

LASER Boston: Exploring the Dream World will feature Professor of Chronobiology and Sleep Research, Dr. Steven Brown, Psychologist and Author, Dr. Deidre Barrett, and Teaching Faculty & Clinical Consultant Dr. Mark J. Blechner.

Presented by swissnex Boston and SciArt Initiative.

Event Program (EST)

12:00 pm – Welcome Remarks
12:10 pm – Talks: Three 12-min segments
12:50 pm – Q&A Session
01:15 pm – Closing remarks

In Switzerland (CET)
06:00 pm – Welcome Remarks
06:10 pm – Talks: Three 12-min segments
06:50 pm – Q&A Session
07:15 pm – Closing remarks


  • Dr. Steven Brown: The “Nuts and Bolts” of Sleep and Dreaming
  • Dr. Deirdre Barrett: Digital Dream Art
  • Dr. Mark Blechner: New ideas about how dreams are formed and how to understand them


Dr. Steven Brown

Dr. Steven Brown – Professor of Chronobiology and Sleep Research, University of Zurich
After undergraduate research in yeast genetics and graduate studies on chromatin biochemistry at Harvard, Dr. Steven Brown moved to Geneva for postdoctoral work, where he first studied biological clocks and sleep in the laboratory of Ueli Schibler. After a stay at Charité Universitätsmedezin as a Humboldt fellow, he returned to Switzerland in 2007 as an assistant professor and then professor. His laboratory studies the molecular mechanisms and neural circuits underlying sleep and diurnal behaviour, using human cells and mouse models. Their studies of human cells recently culminated in cellular GWAS studies to show how common regulatory variation affects human daily behavior; and their mouse studies have led to the discovery of novel causes of human intellectual disability, and have shown how sleep and circadian influences cooperate to regulate synaptic dynamics. Dr. Brown and his team have also pioneered the use of metabolomics to study circadian function, including in exhaled breath. Here is the link to his laboratory:


Deidre Barrett

Dr. Deidre Barrett – Psychologist and Author
Deirdre Barrett, Ph.D. is a psychologist at Harvard where she teaches courses on dreams. She is the former president of IASD and The Society for Psychological Hypnosis. She has written five books including Pandemic Dreams and The Committee of Sleep, and she is the editor of four more including Trauma and Dreams. She is also Editor-in-Chief of IASD’s journal, DREAMING. For the past four years, she has been making digital art based on her dreams, and is represented by Keep Contemporary Gallery in San Antonio. Her work has appeared in shows around the U.S. and won second place in The International Association for the Study of Dreams exhibition in 2017.


Dr. Mark J. Blechner

Dr. Mark J. Blechner – Teaching Faculty & Clinical Consultant, NYU, Arts & Science
Dr. Mark J. Blechner is a psychologist and psychoanalyst in New York City and professor at New York University. He has published four books: Hope and Mortality (1997), The Dream Frontier (2001), Sex Changes: Transformations in Society and Psychoanalysis (2009), and The Mindbrain and Dreams: An Exploration of Dreaming, Thinking, and Artistic Creation (2018). At the William Alanson White Institute, he is Training and Supervising Psychoanalyst. As Founder and Director of the White Institute’s HIV Clinical Service (1991-2001), he led the first psychoanalytic clinic devoted to working with people with AIDS, their relatives, and caregivers. He received his doctorate from Yale University, where he also studied music and language perception. His dissertation included the serendipitous finding that one third of the population cannot perceive the difference between major and minor triads.  Besides his practice of psychoanalysis and psychotherapy, he also leads several dream groups.

LASER Boston is co-organized by swissnex Boston and SciArt Initiative. LASER is a program of Leonardo/the International Society for the Arts, Sciences, and Technology. LASER Boston meets four times per year, featuring local and visiting artists, scientists, technologists, and creative professionals.