In the movie Inception, Leonardo DiCaprio enters into the dreams of other people and communicates with them and steals their secret information from their subconscious mind. But now it seems that this science fiction is one small step closer to reality.
Recently, for the first time, scientists have been able to “talk” and communicate with lucid dreamers in the laboratory. Lucid dreamers are people who realize that they are dreaming when they are dreaming. The study, based on data from four labs and 36 participants, demonstrates that humans can also receive and process complex external information during sleep.
Benjamin Baird, a neuroscientist at the University of Wisconsin in the United States, said, “This study challenges the basic definitions of sleep.” He said, sleep is generally defined as a state when the brain is disconnected from the outside world and the brain is completely unaware of the outside world.
The concept of conscious dreaming while sleeping is first mentioned in the writings of the Greek philosopher Aristotle in the fourth century BC. And modern scientists have been observing the matter since 1970.
Scientists observe conscious dreaming while conducting experiments on the rapid eye movement (REM) stage of sleep, the stage in which most dreams occur. Every second person has a dream at least once in their life, when they realize that they are dreaming even when they are asleep. And 10% of people have such dreams at least once a month.
Scientists believe that it is possible to increase the ability to understand the dream during sleep and to control some aspects of the dream through training.
In some studies, scientists have attempted to communicate with sleeping people while dreaming.
Using stimuli such as light, shock, and noise, they try to enter the dreams of sleeping people. But there was not much commotion from the sleeping men. And exchange of complex information was not possible.
Four separate teams from France, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United States tried to go a step further and establish complex two-way communication with the sleeping person while dreaming. During this time they use words to communicate with the sleeper and ask questions that the sleeper never heard during their training. The study tested 36 experienced volunteers, some of whom had experience with lucid dreaming while asleep. The rest, however, never had such a dream, but they could remember at least one dream a week.
The researchers first trained participants to acquire the ability to understand what they were actually dreaming while dreaming.
They are also well explained about what lucid dreaming actually is. And they are told that when they start to dream after falling asleep, they will be told by sounds, lights or finger taps that they are dreaming.
Participants were sent to sleep at different times. Some are sent to bed at night when people usually go to sleep. Some are allowed to sleep again in the morning. Each laboratory tried to communicate with the sleeping people in different ways–from turning on the lights to asking them verbally.
Participants in the study were told to signal each time they began to dream. And then let them answer the questions that will be asked through signs. For example, they are asked to move their eyes three times to the left in response to a question.
Then, as the study participants fell asleep, the scientists monitored their brain activity, eye movements, and facial muscle contractions. These are common signs of reaching the REM stage of sleep. Their heads were fitted with electroencephalogram helmets with equipment to receive electrical signals. Of the total 57 sessions during sleep, only 6 indicated conscious dreaming during 15 sessions.
In those experiments, researchers asked conscious dreamers simple yes-or-no questions and mathematical questions such as the sum of 8 and 6. The dreamers used the signals they were taught before falling asleep to answer. These included smiling or frowning, repeatedly moving their eyes to indicate a number. In a German laboratory, they were asked to move their eyes to a pattern that matched Morse code.
The researchers asked the lucid dreamers 158 questions.
Out of which they answered only 18.6% questions correctly. And they answered only 3.2% of the questions incorrectly; And 17.7% answers were not clear. Apart from this, 60.8% of the questions did not give any answer.
The researchers say that this proves that it is possible to communicate with the sleeping person by entering the dream, although it is very difficult. Benjamin Baird said, “That study provided practical evidence for this idea. And similar evidence, using different methods in different labs, proves even more strongly that two-way communication with the sleeping person in dreams is possible.”
After several questions the dreamers are awakened. And they are asked to describe their dreams. Some remembered the researchers’ questions as part of their dreams. A dreamer reports math questions coming from a car radio.
Another said he was at a party when the researcher was questioning him. And he felt as if someone were asking him, ‘Can he speak Spanish?’
“This experiment provides a better way to study dreams,” said lead author Karen Concoli, a neuroscientist at Northwestern University. “Previously, everything we knew about dreams was based on the dreamer’s own account of it after waking up, and that account has the potential to be inaccurate, false, or distorted.” can be used. This technique involves communicating with someone while they are asleep, influencing their dreams, or controlling the nature of their dreams, so that they can fight their trauma, anxiety and depression and heal.
“Talking” in dreams while sleeping can help dreamers solve problems, learn new skills, or even come up with creative ideas, Baird said. Dreaming is a very helpful state for creativity. Because when dreaming, people’s thoughts do not really have any rein or control. As a result, people can easily get creative ideas in their dreams.”
Michelle Carr, a neuroscientist at the University of Rochester, says she is very interested in the future use of dreams in medical science. However, he insists, the details the person gives about the dream after the dream cannot be completely ignored. Because when one is in a dream one’s ability to report is quite limited.”
Ken Pauler, another neuroscientist at Northwestern University and co-author, said, “Getting inside someone’s head while they are dreaming and changing their thoughts is still science fiction.
Still, he thinks the research is an important first step in communicating with people in their dreams. He compared this research to the first time in history talking on the telephone or the first conversation with an astronaut on another planet. “When people dream,” he says, “they wander around in a world entirely made up of memories stored in their brains.”
Researchers now seem to have found a way to communicate with humans by tapping into that dream world.