Neuroscientists discover similarities between dreaming and wakefulness. In lucid dreamers, the brain area that enables us to consciously reflect cognitive processes is larger. This fact is shown in a joint study by scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin and the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry in Munich. The results are published in the current issue of The Journal of Neuroscience.
Some people know the phenomenon of lucid dreaming, a state of awareness during which they are conscious of dreaming. Sometimes, the dreamers can even play an active role in their dreams. Most of the lucid dreamers, however, experience lucid dreams only a couple of times a year and only very few nearly every night.
Undoubtedly, the idea to control one’s dreams and to live out there what’s impossible in real life, like e.g. flying, is tempting. Internet forums and blogs are full of instructions and tips on lucid dreaming. But how can some persons dream lucidly and others not? Is lucid dreaming connected with the human capability of self-reflection – the so-called metacognition?
Although this relationship seems obvious, it was so far unclear whether lucid dreaming, i.e., being aware of dreaming while dreaming, and metacognition, the knowledge of one’s knowledge and thinking, are indeed related to each other.
Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), neuroscientist from the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin together with their colleagues from the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry in Munich could now demonstrate this connection for the first time when comparing the brain structures of 31 frequent lucid dreamers to those of 31 participants who never or only rarely have lucid dreams.
The scientists discovered that the brain area controlling conscious cognitive processes, i.e., the anterior prefrontal cortex, is larger in lucid dreamers. The same cortical area is also important for metacognition. The differences in volumes between lucid dreamers and non-lucid dreamers in this brain area suggest that lucid dreaming and metacognition are indeed closely connected. This theory was supported by brain images taken when subjects were solving metacognitive tests while being awake. These images demonstrate that the activity in the anterior prefrontal cortex was higher in lucid dreamers.
“Next, we want to know whether metacognitive skills can be trained,” states Elisa Filevich, post-doc in the Center for Lifespan Psychology at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development. “Our study indicates that self-reflection in everyday life is more pronounced in persons who can easily control their dreams.” To examine whether training positively influences metacognition, the researchers intend to train test persons in lucid dreaming in a follow-up study.
Filevich, E., Dresler, M., Brick, T.R., Kühn, S. (2015). Metacognitive Mechanisms Underlying Lucid Dreaming. The Journal of Neuroscience.
Max Planck Institute for Human Development
The Max Planck Institute for Human Development was founded in 1963 in Berlin and is an interdisciplinary research institute dedicated to the study of human lifespan development and education. The Institute is part of the Max Planck Society, a leading organization for basic sciences in Europe.
Kerstin Skork | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung
Laser activated gold pyramids could deliver drugs, DNA into cells without harm
24.03.2017 | Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
What does congenital Zika syndrome look like?
24.03.2017 | University of California - San Diego
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy