In a new study, researchers found a person in the midst of a vivid dream would be able to perceive questions and provide answers to them.
They found that individuals in REM sleep can interact with an experimenter and engage in real-time communication.
They also showed that dreamers are capable of comprehending questions, engaging in working-memory operations, and producing answers.
The research was conducted by a team at Northwestern University.
While dreams are a common experience, scientists still haven’t adequately explained them.
Relying on a person’s recounting of dreams is also fraught with distortions and forgotten details.
So, the team decided to attempt communication with people during lucid dreams.
They tested 36 people who aimed to have a lucid dream, in which a person is aware they’re dreaming.
The study included four experiments using different approaches to achieve a similar goal.
In addition to the group at Northwestern University in the U.S., one group conducted studies at Sorbonne University in France, one at Osnabruck University in Germany, and one at Radboud University Medical Center in the Netherlands.
The team put the results together because they felt that the combination of results from four different labs using different approaches most convincingly attests to the reality of this phenomenon of two-way communication.
One of the individuals who readily succeeded with two-way communication had narcolepsy and frequent lucid dreams. Among the others, some had lots of experience in lucid dreaming and others did not.
Overall, the researchers found that it was possible for people while dreaming to follow instructions, do simple math, answer yes-or-no questions, or tell the difference between different sensory stimuli.
They could respond using eye movements or by contracting facial muscles. The researchers refer to it as “interactive dreaming.”
These findings could open the door in future scientific work to learn more about dreams, memory, and how memory storage depends on sleep.
Outside of the laboratory, the methods could be used to help people in various ways, such as solving problems during sleep or offering nightmare sufferers novel ways to cope.
One author of the study is Ken Paller.
The study is published in the journal Current Biology.
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