In a dream, people can receive and process complex information that comes to them from outside. This is evidenced by data from studies conducted by four independent teams of scientists from France, Germany, the Netherlands and the United States. True, so far we are talking about the so-called lucid, or lucid, dreams.
Dreams are called lucid, during which a person realizes that he is sleeping. They were mentioned by the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle in the 4th century BC, and starting from the 70s of the last century, scientific research on this topic appeared. It is known that about 10% of people have such dreams once a month or more often. And some even learn to manage the plots of lucid dreams with the help of special techniques.
Studies have been conducted in which experts have tried to establish contact with dreamers using simple stimuli, such as light and sound signals. However, the response was minimal.
Recently, experts decided to test whether the sleepers would be able to communicate with the awake, for example, answer questions asked of them. According to the journal Current Biology, 36 volunteers took part in the experiments. Among them were both those who had already practiced lucid dreaming, and those who had not previously encountered it, but were inclined to at least sometimes remember their dreams.
Sessions were held either at night or early in the morning. The authors of the studies previously told the subjects that they would give various signals during their sleep, including tapping with their fingers. And it is these signals that will mean that the participants are dreaming. If people picked up this information, they had to, in turn, signal it in some way.
After falling asleep, the researchers used special equipment to record the volunteers’ brain activity, eye movement, and facial muscle contractions. It turned out that in the course of 15 of 57 sessions, six participants had lucid dreams. After that, they were asked questions that could be answered with “yes” or “no”, or even simple mathematical problems of addition and subtraction.
One had to answer through certain actions, for example, smile or frown, move the eyes as many times as it would correspond to the desired number in the answer. And in one of the laboratories, eye movements corresponded to Morse code.
In total, the dreamers were asked 158 questions, which were answered correctly in 18.6% of cases. Only in 3.2% of cases the answers were completely wrong. 17.7% were unclear, and in 60.8% of cases the questions remained unanswered.
After sessions of these “conversations,” participants were awakened and asked to describe what they had seen in their dreams. It turned out that for some subjects, the questions they were asked were part of a dream. So, one participant said that he heard how mathematical problems sounded from a car radio, and another, while in a dream at a party, heard a voice similar to an announcer who asked him if he spoke Spanish.
Why do you need to “talk” with dreamers?
One of the lead authors of the study, a cognitive neuroscientist from Northwestern University (USA) Karen Concoli believes that these experiments will allow a better study of the mechanism of dreams.
“Almost everything that is known about dreams has been based on waking retrospective reports, and these can be distorted,” she states.
According to Karen, in the future, the technique of “questions and answers” can be used for therapeutic purposes, say, to help people cope with various psychological traumas, anxiety and depression.
In turn, a cognitive neuroscientist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Benjamin Baird believes that “talking” to dreamers can help them develop creative ideas or learn new skills.
“Sleep is a highly associative state that can have advantages when it comes to creativity,” he says.
Well, at least it is clear that in a dream the brain is not completely disconnected from the outside world and is able to perceive information from there, which means that this can somehow be used in practice.