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Friday, February 26, 2016

Your Brain When Lucid

In more recent years, scientists have made use of functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) techniques to study the brains of active lucid dreamers.
This study conducted at the Neurological Laboratory in Frankfurt in 2009 detected brainwaves in the range of 40 Hz (Gamma range) during lucid dreams.
To put that in context, typical dreams take place in the Theta range (4-7 Hz), while waking consciousness averages in the Beta range (16-31 Hz).
That's massive. Lucid dreams allow us to tap into even higher states of consciousness than waking reality.
And this all took place in the claustrophobic, thumping tube of an MRI machine. In total, six lucid dreamers were used to generate the data, over five nights each.
The study, led by Dr Ursula Voss, also found heightened activity in the frontal and frontolateral areas of the brain. These are home to linguistic thought as well as other higher mental functions associated with self-awareness.
The modern scientific study of lucid dreaming is giving us heaps to get excited about.
Dream Playback
This may sound like science fiction, but fMRI has also brought about the chance record our dreams while they occur. As in -- video playback.
The technology is not exactly polished just yet, however. In this study, also out of Germany, lucid dreamers were asked to perform a specific action in their dream. First, they signaled their lucidity with eye movements, then they lucidly clenched their right fist for 10 seconds in the dream.
At the same time, the fMRI produced a live view of bloodflow in their brains.
The result? The very same areas of the brain were activated whether they clenched their fists in their lucid dreams - or while awake.
The applied usefulness of this data is we can build a library of physical and dream actions detected by fMRI and translate them in real time.
And there's more.
How to Play Back Your Dreams"With this combination of sleep EEGs, imaging methods and lucid dreamers, we can measure not only simple movements during sleep but also the activity patterns in the brain during visual dream perceptions," explains Martin Dresler, a researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Psychiatry.
That's right - when this technology is developed, we'll be able to live stream and record our dreams visually.
In fact, these Japanese researchers at the ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories in Kyoto are already on the case.
Their study involved waking volunteers while dreaming inside an fMRI machine and asking what they were dreaming about.
This time, they weren't using lucid dreamers. So they had to wake them hundreds of times and glean the dream experiences retrospectively.
Their dream decoding software then pieced together these images, attempting to recreate the dream from the bloodflow data.