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
Purdue cancer identity technology makes it easier to find a tumor's 'address'
16.11.2018 | Purdue University
Microgel powder fights infection and helps wounds heal
14.11.2018 | Michigan Technological University
Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have captured a difficult-to-view singular event involving "magnetic reconnection"--the process by which sparse particles and energy around Earth collide producing a quick but mighty explosion--in the Earth's magnetotail, the magnetic environment that trails behind the planet.
Magnetic reconnection has remained a bit of a mystery to scientists. They know it exists and have documented the effects that the energy explosions can...
Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.
Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...
Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.
In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...
On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.
When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure
Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...
09.11.2018 | Event News
06.11.2018 | Event News
23.10.2018 | Event News
16.11.2018 | Health and Medicine
16.11.2018 | Life Sciences
16.11.2018 | Life Sciences