lucid dreaming induced electrical brain stimulation

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Published on May 14th, 2014

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Lucid Dreaming Induced with Electrical Brain Stimulation

A team of German researchers succeeded for the first time to induce lucid dreams to people using electrical brain stimulation.

This discovery may help reduce the frequency of nightmares, but mainly it helps in understanding how the brain works during dreaming.

In a normal dream, the person is not aware of that dream, but in a lucid dream the person is aware of it. Thus, one can decide if he wants to wake up and try to control the events in the dream.

Their method was detailed in the journal Nature Neuroscience.

Previous research has shown that lucid dreams are accompanied by brain wave activity in the gamma band, at a frequency of around 40 Hz.

Now, experts wanted to know if these waves produce lucid dreams or vice versa, if lucid dreams produce gamma waves.
So they turned to 27 volunteers, 15 women and 12 men who never had lucid dreams.

The experiments took place in the laboratory of the Department of Neurophysiology at the University Medical Center Göttingen in Germany.

For four nights, subjects slept here, and at about 3 am, the REM phase of sleep usually starts, researchers have started electrical stimulation of the brain by different frequencies for 30 seconds. After a few minutes, the volunteers were awakened and asked what they dreamed.

Scientists have previously noticed that lucid dreamers had activity around 40Hz in the frontotemporal section of the brain.

The conclusion was that applying electrical stimulation in the gamma band at a frequency of 40 Hz, the researchers were able to induce lucid dreams in 77% of subjects.

At a frequency of 25 Hz approximately 58% of the volunteers had lucid dreams, and for other frequencies this phenomenon was absent.

Example of lucid dream report following the 40-Hz stimulation.

I was dreaming about lemon cake. It looked translucent, but then again, it didn’t. It was a bit like in an animated movie, like the Simpsons. And then I started falling and the scenery changed and I was talking to Matthias Schweighöfer (a German actor) and 2 foreign exchange students. And I was wondering about the actor and they told me “yes, you met him before,” so then I realized “oops, you are dreaming.” I mean, while I was dreaming! So strange!

Example of a non-lucid dream (12 Hz).

It was about shopping. I bought these shoes and then there was such a girl, she went–like–”snap” (snaps her fingers) and cut off her waist, just like that. Interviewer: she cut off her waist? Subject: yeah, just like that.

Example of a non-lucid dream (6 Hz).

I am driving in my car, for a long time. Then I arrive at this place where I haven’t been before. And there are a lot of people there. I think maybe I know some of them but they are all in a bad mood so I go to a separate room, all by myself.

The discovered method could be used for people suffering from post-traumatic stress and often have nightmares. They could use electrical stimulation to control these unpleasant dreams.

Source: Real Clear Science

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