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
A step closer to cancer precision medicine
15.11.2019 | University of Helsinki
Can 'smart toilets' be the next health data wellspring?
14.11.2019 | Morgridge Institute for Research
An international team of scientists, including three researchers from New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), has shed new light on one of the central mysteries of solar physics: how energy from the Sun is transferred to the star's upper atmosphere, heating it to 1 million degrees Fahrenheit and higher in some regions, temperatures that are vastly hotter than the Sun's surface.
With new images from NJIT's Big Bear Solar Observatory (BBSO), the researchers have revealed in groundbreaking, granular detail what appears to be a likely...
The Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Advanced Materials IFAM in Dresden has succeeded in using Selective Electron Beam Melting (SEBM) to...
Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are valuable for a wide variety of applications. Made of graphene sheets rolled into tubes 10,000 times smaller than a human hair, CNTs have an exceptional strength-to-mass ratio and excellent thermal and electrical properties. These features make them ideal for a range of applications, including supercapacitors, interconnects, adhesives, particle trapping and structural color.
New research reveals even more potential for CNTs: as a coating, they can both repel and hold water in place, a useful property for applications like printing,...
If you've ever tried to put several really strong, small cube magnets right next to each other on a magnetic board, you'll know that you just can't do it. What happens is that the magnets always arrange themselves in a column sticking out vertically from the magnetic board. Moreover, it's almost impossible to join several rows of these magnets together to form a flat surface. That's because magnets are dipolar. Equal poles repel each other, with the north pole of one magnet always attaching itself to the south pole of another and vice versa. This explains why they form a column with all the magnets aligned the same way.
Now, scientists at ETH Zurich have managed to create magnetic building blocks in the shape of cubes that - for the first time ever - can be joined together to...
Quantum-based communication and computation technologies promise unprecedented applications, such as unconditionally secure communications, ultra-precise...
15.11.2019 | Event News
15.11.2019 | Event News
05.11.2019 | Event News
18.11.2019 | Earth Sciences
18.11.2019 | Life Sciences
18.11.2019 | Power and Electrical Engineering