Scientists discover way to communicate with people while they sleep and dream

Scientists discover way to communicate with people while they sleep and dream

Mashable·2021-02-19 18:00

In Christopher Nolan's masterpiece Inception, the characters of the movie perform a technique that allows them to communicate with a sleeping individual by invading their dream space.As it turns out, something similar exists in the real world.Scientists at Northwestern University in Illinois, U.S., have discovered a phenomenon that sees people in a state of sleep and dreaming having the ability to communicate with the waking world, including performing simple instructions, answering yes-or-no questions, and even solving basic math problems.Christopher Nolan's Inception was all about subtly planting an idea within the mind of a dreaming individual. IMAGE: No Film SchoolThey call the phenomenon "interactive dreaming", and it occurs during the phase known as Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep, the stage of sleep where dreams take place, and one which scientists are still learning new things about.The researchers worked with a group of 36 individuals across four different labs to create sleep experiments based on their theories, with some of the participants having different sleep-related conditions such as narcolepsy."We found that individuals in REM sleep can interact with an experimenter and engage in real-time communication," said Northwestern University psychologist Ken Paller. "We also showed that dreamers are capable of comprehending questions, engaging in working-memory operations, and producing answers.""Most people might predict that this would not be possible that people would either wake up when asked a question or fail to answer, and certainly not comprehend a question without misconstruing it."Communicating from dreamland.Monitoring them via electroencephaloghrams (EEC), the participants were given various stimuli as they slept, such as vocal cues, flashing lights, and physical contact. Next, they were asked to respond to simple tasks and queries including solving basic math equations, counting the number of flashes they saw, answering simple yes-or-no questions, and responding to touch.An illustration of the processes in the sleep experiments. IMAGE: Current BiologyThe participants would respond to these questions and tasks via predetermined eye or facial muscle movements, and the results showed that there was at least one correct response to a query in 47 percent of the 57 test sessions in which the participant confirmed they were in a state of dreaming.To ensure that the participants were being truthful about dreaming, the confirmation of dream states was done in a manner that required the agreement of several present witnesses.Individuals that provided correct responses were usually woken up in order to get them to report on their dreams. At this point, some said that they remember receiving the stimuli as if they were coming from outside the dream such as a voice without a body, for example, while some said they perceived the stimuli as being part of the dream itself for instance, like listening to a radio that was in their dream world.Huge potential.The outcomes of the experiments were published in an issue of the scientific journal Current Biology, and the researchers likened the experiments to trying to communicate with an astronaut in space, and found the immediacy of the responses extremely exciting.In addition to explaining what happens during REM sleep, this research could potentially be beneficial in a number of other ways, including training individuals to use their dreams as a tool to achieve certain life objectives. In other cases, such techniques can be used to treat particular mental health issues such as memory loss or some sleep disorders.Perhaps further down the line, the technique could even help individuals control what exactly they experience in their dreams."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," said the team in their report."This relatively unexplored communication channel can enable a variety of practical applications and a new strategy for the empirical exploration of dreams."If the techniques used to interact with people as they dream became more widespread, what do you think would be the best use case for such exercises?Read more science stories:First pictures from NASA's Perseverance confirm its Mars landingNo, this isn't some mutated alligator. It's actually a fish.Pigs are being taught how to play video games and they're pretty darn good at itCover image sourced from The Mirror and Stanford University.

……

Read full article on Mashable

Comments

Leave a comment in Nestia App