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There are a select few people whose dreams have a strong connection with reality. Lucid dreamers have the ability to manipulate consciously their dream and turn their nighttime hours into an imaginative playground without boundaries.
In 1975, science substantiated lucid dreaming when psychologist Dr. Keith Hearne trained his experimental volunteers to use their ocular signaling to indicate they were in a lucid dream state. The participants signaled their consciousness during the dream by moving their eyes left to right eight times, The Telegraph reported.
The power to do anything
Experts said that the immediate appeal of lucid dreaming is that it offers a superhuman ability to control the world the dreamer lives in even if it is just for a few seconds or minutes. It can be used to resolve waking-life stress and tensions or for pleasurable experiences. The dreamer can play out challenging situations before it happens such as a presentation or a difficult exam.
Ian Wallace, a psychologist,a dream expert and author of “The Complete A to Z Dictionary of Dreams,” said that by using lucid dreams to work through challenging situations in the waking life, the person naturally begins to realize that he has the power to create the day-to-day reality he wants to live in. He pointed out that part of the excitement of lucid dreams is one realizes he has the power to do anything he wants in the world of his dream.
He said that it is highly likely that creators and innovators such as artists, scientists, and inventors used lucid dream experiences to explore creative options that may not be obvious from a routinely analytical and objective perspective.
Wallace cited Einstein who is thought to have used lucid dreams to help formulate his theories. Creators, inventors, and artists like him are known for their capacity for deep play. Here, they can be so absorbed in their particular area of interest that they enter into a flow state wherein they unconsciously shut out any other influences that are of no relevance.
When does lucid dreaming take place?
According to Wallace, lucid dreaming takes place during the rapid eye movement periods of sleep that can happen four times a night. He said it is most likely to take place during the hypnagogic and hypnopompic states between waking and sleeping. But with practice, it can be generated in any part of the REM state sleep.
During lucid dreams, scientists have found that the area of the brain responsible for higher cognitive control, emotional processing, and awareness remain active. One brain part, the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, is involved in self-assessment, memory, and decision-making and is fully running during the process.
Wallace said that everyone potentially will experience a lucid dream during their life, but possibly it happens without the dreamer fully understanding they are in a lucid dream state. He added that to have a lucid dream, a person does not need to have an IQ of 160 although studies have noted that frequent lucid dreamers have more grey matter in the brain.
He estimated that around 20 percent of adults have lucid dreams regularly, up to half of them experience one in their lifetime. Because of neurobiological changes, spontaneous lucid dreaming is common during puberty.
MTV said that lucid dreaming is a fancy term for when a person realizes their dream is not real and begins to take control over its entire narrative.
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Another research that was published in The Journal of Neuroscience suggested that people who lucid dream are more self-reflective in general. It could explain why they are constantly questioning themselves and their perception of reality even in a dreamscape.
In theory, it is estimated that around 55 percent of people will experience at least one lucid dream in their lifetime. But it would be much rarer to experience lucid dreams frequently and for longer periods of time.
Inducing a dream-like state
Live Science reported that taking hallucinogenic drugs places people in dream-like states. It cited a new study that compared statistically the way people talk about dreams in a way they talk about the effect of drugs, including lysergic acid diethylamide, mescaline, or magic mushrooms (psilocybin).
To induce a lucid dream-like state, LSD is the drug to experience a type of dream wherein the dreamer knows he is dreaming and can often take control of his actions. The study, published on January 22 in the journal Frontiers in Neuroscience, said that drugs such as scopolamine and atropine induce a state that is a lot like low lucidity dreaming which makes people delirious and gives them hallucinations which they do not realize are hallucinations.
Enzo Tagliazucchi, a neuroscientist at the University of Buenos Aires in Argentina, compared the subjective experience of a hallucinogen with a particular aspect of neurochemistry that could help explain how the brain spontaneously generates dreams. The study illuminated the experience of hallucinogenic drugs and demystifying dreams.
[researchpaper 리서치페이퍼=Vittorio Hernandez 기자]