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
Remdesivir prevents MERS coronavirus disease in monkeys
14.02.2020 | NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
Recent advances in addressing tuberculosis give hope for future
12.02.2020 | NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
Most natural and artificial surfaces are rough: metals and even glasses that appear smooth to the naked eye can look like jagged mountain ranges under the microscope. There is currently no uniform theory about the origin of this roughness despite it being observed on all scales, from the atomic to the tectonic. Scientists suspect that the rough surface is formed by irreversible plastic deformation that occurs in many processes of mechanical machining of components such as milling.
Prof. Dr. Lars Pastewka from the Simulation group at the Department of Microsystems Engineering at the University of Freiburg and his team have simulated such...
Investigation of the temperature dependence of the skyrmion Hall effect reveals further insights into possible new data storage devices
The joint research project of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) that had previously demonstrated...
Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, recently completed a 5-year research project looking at how to make fibre optic communications systems more energy efficient. Among their proposals are smart, error-correcting data chip circuits, which they refined to be 10 times less energy consumptive. The project has yielded several scientific articles, in publications including Nature Communications.
Streaming films and music, scrolling through social media, and using cloud-based storage services are everyday activities now.
After helping develop a new approach for organic synthesis -- carbon-hydrogen functionalization -- scientists at Emory University are now showing how this approach may apply to drug discovery. Nature Catalysis published their most recent work -- a streamlined process for making a three-dimensional scaffold of keen interest to the pharmaceutical industry.
"Our tools open up whole new chemical space for potential drug targets," says Huw Davies, Emory professor of organic chemistry and senior author of the paper.
Superconductivity approaching room temperature may be possible in hydrogen-rich compounds at much lower pressures than previously expected
Reaching room-temperature superconductivity is one of the biggest dreams in physics. Its discovery would bring a technological revolution by providing...
12.02.2020 | Event News
16.01.2020 | Event News
15.01.2020 | Event News
17.02.2020 | Life Sciences
17.02.2020 | Information Technology
17.02.2020 | Life Sciences