Updated: Jul 16, 2021
A recent study published in Current Biology titled “Real-time dialogue between experimenters and dreamers during REM sleep” has discovered that individuals who are asleep and experiencing a lucid dream, which is a dream where the individual knows that they are in the midst of a dream, can “perceive questions from an experimenter and provide answers using electrophysiological signals.” These answers are provided while they are dreaming.
We implemented our procedures for two-way communication during polysomnographically verified rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep in 36 individuals. Some had minimal prior experience with lucid dreaming, others were frequent lucid dreamers, and one was a patient with narcolepsy who had frequent lucid dreams. During REM sleep, these individuals exhibited various capabilities, including performing veridical perceptual analysis of novel information, maintaining information in working memory, computing simple answers, and expressing volitional replies. Their responses included distinctive eye movements and selective facial muscle contractions, constituting correctly answered questions on 29 occasions across 6 of the individuals tested. These repeated observations of interactive dreaming, documented by four independent laboratory groups, demonstrate that phenomenological and cognitive characteristics of dreaming can be interrogated in real time.
Lucid dreamers were able to follow instructions to compute mathematical operations, answer yes-or-no questions, or discriminate stimuli in the visual, tactile, and auditory modalities. They were able to respond using volitional control of gaze direction or of different facial muscles. There were three different participant categories.
Pretty remarkable isn’t it? The fact that lucid dreamers were able to communicate with the researchers, who weren’t dreaming, is quite mind altering.
Researchers used spoken words, beeping tones, flashing lights and other tactical stimuli like touching the dreamers hand and “tapping” to communicate with the dreamers. The “messages” and questions that the dreamers were “receiving” were answered and acknowledged by the dreamers in the form of eye movements, facial contractions etc.
The dreamers used in the study provide some descriptions after they woke up of what they experienced in real time when the researchers began the stimuli process
I was at a party with friends. Your voice was coming from the outside, just like a narrator of a movie…I decided to answer ‘no’ (with facial muscle contractions). When the lights started flickering. I recognized this as a (Morse-coded) signal from the outside and counted **** *** ***** and reported the answer ‘4’ with eye signals. During the finger tapping, I was fighting against goblins. I remember being surprised that I was able to do many things at the same time as the task.
After reading this it reminded me of the movie Inception, when the dreamers were “triggered” by outside stimuli to begin the “waking up” process, which would manifest as some sort of experience in their dream that would trigger their awakening. The only difference this time is that the stimuli wasn’t done for the purposes of waking the dreamers, but to simply communicate with them while they were dreaming.
As mentioned in the study, one of the examples came from a 35-year-old German participant. This one was an experienced lucid dreamer, and while he was dreaming and presented with a visual stimuli by the researchers of alternating colors and a Morse-coded math problem which was 4 minus 0, the participant produced the correct answer using eye movements. The participant described giving his answer after awakening from the dream. “In his description of the dream, he maintained that he heard the message “4 plus 0″ and answered accordingly.” This example comes from the second quote above.
A 20-year-old French participant with narcolepsy and remarkable lucid-dreaming abilities was also used. Because of his narcolepsy, he reached REM sleep quickly, about 1 min after the beginning of a 20-min daytime nap, and he signaled lucidity 5 min later. The researchers verbally asked him yes/no questions and he answered correctly using facial muscle contractions (zygomatic muscle for yes, corrugator muscle for no). In a separate analysis of facial contractions during lucid dreaming, the researchers never observed a response in the absence of stimulation. This example comes from the first quote above, where he experienced this in his dream as an actual voice asking him a yes or a no question.
“There are studies of lucid dreamers communicating out of dreams, and also remembering to do tasks. But there’s a fairly limited amount of research on the stimuli going into lucid dreams….One thing that surprised us is that you could just say a sentence to somebody, and they could understand it just as it actually is….It’s amazing to sit in the lab and ask a bunch of questions, and then somebody might actually answer one. It’s such an immediately rewarding type of experiment to do. You don’t have to wait to analyze your data or anything like that. You can see it right there while they’re still sleeping.” – Karen Konkoly, a PhD student at Northwestern University and first author of the paper. (source)
It’s very interesting because it shows a level of “alertness” to the “real world” that is still present in the dream world. Participants are able to experience both worlds.
A 2009 study showed that lucid dreaming constitutes a “hybrid state of consciousness with definable and measurable differences from waking and from REM sleep, particularly in frontal areas.” This study showed that lucid dreamers operate with gamma brainwaves, which are of the the highest frequency. They range from 40 to 100 Hz, the fastest documented brainwave frequencies known to man, and suggest that some lucid dreamers are using more of their brain, and that the brain is functioning at a higher level as compared to when in the normal “waking” state.
When it comes to brain waves, lucid dreamers brainwaves can be compared to the brain waves of meditating monks.
Not long ago, researchers led by Richard Davidson, a neuroscientist at The W.M. Keck Laboratory for Functional Brain Imaging and Behavior teamed up with a number of monks and volunteers. The Dalai Lama even dispatched eight of his most accomplished practitioners to Davidson’s lab to have them hooked up for EEG testing and brain scanning. These monks come from traditions of meditation for an estimated 10,000 to 50,000 hours, over time periods of 15 to 40 years.
The monks were fitted with a net of 256 electrical sensors and asked to meditate for short periods, and Davidson was particularly interested in measuring gamma waves, the highest frequency and most important known electrical brain impulses. The results showed that the electrodes picked up much greater activation of fast moving and usually powerful gamma waves in the monks (3). The movement of the waves through the brain were far better organized and coordinated. (source)
In the mid 1960s, Montague Ullman, MD, began a number of experiments at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York, to test the hypothesis that people could be primed to dream about randomly selected material. In other words, they could choose what they wanted to dream about before going to sleep, and this could include anything, from artwork to movies to photographs and more. Shortly after these experiments began, Ullman was joined by Stanley Krippner (quoted above), a scientist with an impressive background in psychology, parapsychology, and dreams.
The experiments they conducted lasted a span of more than 10 years, and “yielded statistically significant results.” You can read more about that here.
During the experiments, there was usually a “telepathic sender” and a “telepathic receiver.” They met in the laboratory for a short period of time before being placed in completely separate rooms just prior to sleep. The telepathic sender had an envelope waiting for them in the room in which they’d sleep. It would contain something like a picture or a drawing. The receivers were then purposely awakened shortly after Rapid Eye Movement sleep (REM) began so the researchers could take a dream report.
According to Dr. Stanley Krippner, professor of psychology at Saybrook University in California:
A wealth of anecdotal and clinical material exist which supports the possibility of telepathic effects occurring in dreams (Krippner, 1974). However, an experimental approach to the topic did not become possible until psycho physiological laboratory technology became available. It was discovered that sleeping research participants awakened from periods of rapid eye movement (REM) activity were frequently able to recall dream episodes. As a result, it was possible to request a “telepathic receiver” to attempt dreaming about a target stimulus that was being focused on in a distant location from a “telepathic sender.” (source)
Here is an interesting video from Dale E. Graff, a physicist and former director of the US government/Stanford remote viewing program where he shares his knowledge about dreaming, and how we can all experience what he calls ‘Psi’ dreaming, or psychic/precognitive dreaming. Also a very interesting phenomenon.
Here is another article regarding precognitive dreaming we published a few years ago with some astonishing experiments as well.
It’s truly remarkable to look into the fascinating world of dreams, especially lucid dreaming. Dreams are a big mystery, but they can perhaps provide some insight and be used as tools for personal development. Perhaps they can be used to help one get clear on life decisions, gain clarity on a situation, or move past a trauma – anything that pertains ones own life and beyond.
When we contemplate and interpret dreams, one can go down a deep philosophical and scientific rabbit hole that will touch on many other topics and aspects of life. Despite the fact that such topics are quite fascinating to a large number of people, our world and current human experience often fails to explore such topics. They are not on the forefront of the collective mind when it comes to the human experience, which seems to be quite defined. We are taught to focus on going to school, getting a job, etc. We are often not invited to explore such profound topics because we often view them as irrelevant and not in alignment with our current worldview. Yet research is showing that it might be time to rethink the worldviews that form what we believe is important in our world.
I believe that if humanity collectively was able to create a human experience that provides abundance to all, where we re-thought our current ideas and beliefs around “work” and “earning a living,” we would be able to move forward with what we naturally are, curious explorers who are looking to discover more about the true nature of reality. I believe we have the potential to create this type of human experience, and the solutions are already there. But the solutions aren’t as important as the consciousness behind these solutions and developments. What are we using our technological developments for?
It is now highly feasible to take care of everybody on Earth at a higher standard of living than any have ever known. It no longer has to be you or me. Selfishness is unnecessary. War is obsolete. It is a matter of converting our high technology from Weaponry to Livingry. (Buckminster Fuller)
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