I'm very interested in dreaming and have pretty good dream recall. This makes me able to recall and distinguish hundreds of experience within my memory and label them as "dreams". I'm trying to understand if there's indeed some feature of a dream memory that makes it different from an ordinary waking memory?
Upon reflection on my personal experiences, it appears to me that when I recall a waking life memory, typically the process is two fold and sequential - first recall the scene then recall the action and combine the two. For example: I was sitting in a room at a local hackerspace + I was talking to fellow hackers there. I can then proceed to try to recall pieces of that conversation. This process seems sequential to me.
However, when I recall the dream memory, it seems that I recall both place and action at the same time, together, with a typically longer sequence of events all recalled much quicker. For example: I was locked in a room with no exit and has created a portal in the wall to escape from the room, flying out of a portal in some other location. These events are recalled all together, in less than a second, and are clearly identified as a dream along with the recall. The content of that dream, although clearly non-real is similar to a video game called "Portal" that I played on a computer in the waking life. I can recall the waking life expeirence of playing that game, although in a linear fashion.
Has there been any brain imaging studies or other evidence that supports the idea that the recall of dreams is different from the recall of waking life experiences?