PSY 4327: LECTURE 10
TWILIGHT ZONE OF DREAMS
Monday, March 27, 2017
PART I: LUCID DREAMS
History of Lucid Dreaming
• 18th century- Tibetan Buddhists pursued the cultivation of dream lucidity.
• Achieving mastery of lucid dreams considered a prerequisite to seeking
• Monks practiced increasing the frequency of lucid dreaming and developed the
ability to modify their dream imagery by willing it to
• They gradually recognized the illusory nature of the dream.
• The monk would then recognize consciousness, which continues in both waking and
• Islam also encouraged its followers to train themselves in the skills of lucid dreaming.
• A 12th century Spanish Sufi, Ibn El-Arabi -"greatest master" in the Arab world- exhorted his followers: "A person must control his
thoughts in a dream. The training of this alertness… will produce great benefits for the individual”.
• Dreams were granted a special status in early Christianity, Tibetan Buddhism, and Islam.
• Late 19th / early 20th century Dutch psychiatrist Frederik Van Eden coined the term "lucid dream“.
• He used the term to describe dreams in which he was “fast asleep yet had full recollection of [his] day-life, and could act voluntarily”.
• Meanwhile in England, Hugh Callaway (Pen name: Oliver Fox) independently discovered lucid dreaming - 16 yr old student of science and
electrical engineering when he experienced his first lucid dream.
o "dreams of knowledge," because one had in them the knowledge that one was really dreaming.
o Fox felt "free as air, secure in the consciousness of my true condition and the knowledge that I could always wake if danger
o Authored: “A Record of Out-of-the-Body Experiences” (1939).
• Carlos Castanda – authored “The Art of Dreaming”, describing “The Gates of Dreaming”
• 1st Gate of Dreaming (stabilization of the dreaming body):
o Arrived at when one perceives one's hands in a dream.
o Solved when one is able to shift the focus from the hands to another dream object and return it to the hands, all repeated a few
times (this process will make you more self-aware)
o Crossed when one is able to induce a state of darkness and a feeling of increased weight while falling asleep.
• 2nd Gate of Dreaming (utilizing the dreaming body):
o Arrived at when one's dream objects start changing into something else.
o Solved when one is able to isolate a “Scout” and follow it to “the realm of Inorganic Beings” (spiritual realm)
o Crossed when one is able to fall asleep without losing consciousness (can enter into lucid state immediately after sleep onset –
fall asleep with the intention of lucid dreaming)
• 3rd Gate of Dreaming (traveling, aka "out of
o Arrived at when one dreams of looking at oneself.
o Solved when the dreaming and physical bodies become one.
o Crossed when one is able to control the dreaming body in the physical realm and move around at ease (in and out-of-body
• 4th Gate of Dreaming (sharing):
o Arrived at / solved when one has gathered enough strength into the dreaming body through the previous gates in order to
travel to other people's dreams.
o Crossing it consists of being able to share the intended dream reality of other people.
• Patricia Garfield: published 10 books covering a broad range of dream topics
o These topics include: nightmares, children’s dreams, healing through dreams and dream-related art
• Her best-known work is “Creative Dreaming.” In it, she describes how to:
o Plan and control your dreams
o To develop creativity overcome fears
o Solve problems
o Create a better self Sensory Enhancement in Lucid Dreams
• Lucid Dreams are often characterized by sensory enhancement:
o Changes in kinesthetic sensations- flying dreams, exhilarating, blissful sensations
o Enhanced auditory elements - beautiful, vivid music
o Sexual feelings enhanced
o Heightened awareness of external environment
o Awareness of self
o Altered/unusual/atypical state of dreaming
Techniques for Developing Lucidity
• It is possible to develop the ability to become lucid in dreams:
o Keeping a dream journal
o Through meditation - better dream recall, more lucid dreams
o LaBerge – "MILD " technique (Mnemonic Induction of Lucid Dreams).
▪ involves waking up from a dream, visualizing yourself back in that same dream, seeing yourself becoming lucid, and
telling yourself, "Next time I'm dreaming, I want to recognize I'm dreaming.“
o Females better able to achieve lucidity
• “Dream Light" - mask that picks up eye movements with an infrared detection device
• Computer determines when in REM by counting eye movements, flashing red lights are turned on within the mask.
• Signal to the dreamer that a REM period is occurring
• The recognition of inconsistency (e.g. red lights flashing) is the most common factor leading to awareness of dreaming
Recent Research: Inducing Lucidity
• Stumbrys, Erlacher & Schredl (2013) used Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS)
o Lucid dreaming might be linked to increased frontal brain activity during REM sleep.
o By applying tDCS researchers activated the DLPFC (Prefrontal cortex) during REM sleep
o According to the self-reports, tDCS increased dream lucidity.
o The effects, however, were not strong and found only in frequent lucid dreamers.
o Attach electrodes to your head, which is attached it a battery – can produce a current
Using Lucid Dreams Therapeutically
• Can be used to change imagery in disturbing nightmares
• Can be used to learn about / gain introspection of aspects of personality
• Can be used to overcome phobias / recurring traumatic events (e.g., PTSD)
• Therapeutic caveat:
o Caution against being lucid too frequently without proper guidance
o Blurred distinction between dreaming and waking life
Laboratory Studies of Lucid Dreaming
• Difficult to study...
• How to communicate to researchers in the lab if you are lucid dreaming?
• Needed a technique whereby a lucid dreamer could signal to the observing scientist that he or she was experiencing lucidity
• During REM sleep – they reasoned if conscious awareness occurs than very specific voluntary eye movements (different from involuntary)
could be made
• After using hypnosis to induce lucid dreams, 14/15 hypnotized subjects had experienced at least one lucid dream.
• 7 out of 15 controls experienced lucidity
• Special placement of electrodes around the eyes enabled subjects
to signal lucidity with eye movements
• Needed to do this every 30 seconds, or they were awoken
Study: Dreamed movement elicits activation in the sensorimotor cortex
• To combine the use of
• Predefined motor task performed during dreaming elicits neuronal activation
in the sensorimotor cortex
• Participants experienced in Lucid Dreaming were to signal onset of lucidity with ocular movement
• Motor Task: hand clenching in 3 conditions
o Lucid dreaming
• Left-Right-Left-Right eye movements
• Clench Left hand 10x
• Left-Right-Left-Right eye movements
• Clench right hand 10x
• Repeat as long as possible in lucidity signaling switch with eye movements
• Verbal dream report given upon awakening to confirm
Wakefulness Real Movement Wakefulness Imagined Movement
• Greater activation in the right hemisphere when left hand is • Activation from wake and imagined movement during wake
clenched, and vice versa (contralateral brain) • Smaller activation because you’re imagining doing the
• Regular modulation of the signal over time movement
• Additional activations in the visual cortex (while you’re
Lucid Dreaming Near Infrared Spectroscopy (NIRS)
• The lucid dreaming and imagining results look very similar • Similar pattern of activation
when they have signaled vs. not
• You can see the head on top left,
and then close up
• Shows oxygenation levels
• Hemodynamic response: you
have blood flow that goes to part of the brain (because neurons
are fired - activation), and then there is a deoxygenated period
NIRS: Time courses
NIRS Results – Summary
• NIRS measures Hemodynamic response
• Increased oxygenation (actiation) over sensorimotor cortex in LD
less activation than WE • Sensorimotor region: you would expect the Wake executed
condition (WE) to be highest
• Similar amplitude (or stronger) response in Supplementary Motor o WI (wake imagined) is in the middle
Area (SMA) compared to WE
• SMA important/implicated in imagined motor movements for o LD (lucid dreaming): is lowest
o Timing preparation • Lucid dreaming: LD is higher than WE and WI
o Monitoring of movements
o Learned motor sequences
o Planning/programming area active in complex
PART II: DREAMS AND HEALTH SOMATIC CONTRIBUTIONS TO DREAMS
• Physical illness and dream content dates back to the early Greeks
• Believed dreams signaled the oncoming of illness
• “Prodromal dreams”- dreams which herald the onset of a physical illness (M. Macario, mid-19th century)
• Symptomatic- dreams which occurred during the course of a disease after it had been detected
• Bernard Siegel - cancer surgeon at Yale School of Medicine
• Case reports: o Patient dreamed of fire under his chin and his wife of lying in a bed of his blood – later diagnosed with throat cancer
o Patient dreamed of shaved head with cancer written on it – later diagnosed with breast cancer, that spread to the brain
• Link between dream imagery, type and location of illness
• Theoretical explanation: "bioplasma" in each cell of the body sends signals "via chemical and 'other codes' " to a "paraconscious" mind –
reflected in dreams forewarning disease (not fully understood – may not be entirely true)
• Evidence of
o Compressed chest imagery - tuberculosis
o Heat imagery - inflammation
o Feces, dirty water, spoiled food, intestinal worms, or raw fish - gastrointestinal
o Head imagery - cerebral conditions
o Imagery of still characters (e.g. ghostlike unmoving characters) – coma/disorder of consciousness
• Robert Smith - Michigan State University College of Human Medicine case reports of medical inpatients reporting dreams:
o Significant association between death references in the dreams of males and a subsequent deterioration in their medical
o Women's medical condition deteriorated when their dreams contained references to separation
o Patients who were undergoing cardiac catheterization, severity of cardiac dysfunction was related to the number of dream
references to death for males and to separation for women
• Vasily Kasatkin, a psychiatrist at the Leningrad Neurosurgical Institute.
• Dream reports spanned four decades
• Theory of Dreams (1967) - findings based on 10,240 dreams from ~1200 subjects
• Rejected psychoanalytic interpretations and focused on manifest dream content (instead of latent content)
• Felt content depended on interior physiological s