Lucid Dreaming Loren Baxter Will Barley Paul Albicker Sydney Thomas
Brief Overview • Introduction to Lucid Dreaming (Loren) • Physiological Correlates (Will) • Clinical Applications of LD (Paul) • Cognitive Implications (Sydney) • Q & A
What is a Lucid Dream? • A state where the subject is conscious that they are dreaming. • The dreamer can have different levels of consciousness: • They can simply understand the fact that they are dreaming, or • They can choose how to act and even exhibit conscious control over the dream environment
Lucid Dreaming in the Past • LD was too difficult to study because lucid dreams are normally rare • Only about 20% of the population reports having one or more LD’s per month • Studying them would require keeping subjects in a lab for months at a time
Stephen LaBerge • Proved in 1980 self-study that Lucid Dreaming is a Learnable skill • Motivation and practice • Developed MILD method (Mnemonic Induced Lucid Dream) • Extended study to a group of 5 subjects in 1981
How to • MILD (Mnemonic Induced Lucid Dream) • Become conscious during REM • WILD (Wake Induced Lucid Dream) • Fall asleep but maintain consciousness • Aides • Reality Checks • Retail Products
MILD • Consciousness occurs during REM sleep • Steps: • 1) Set alarm to wake a few hours early • 2) Immediately rehearse dream • 3) 15 minutes of wakeful activity • 4) Mantras and visualization: “I will realize I’m dreaming” • 5) Repeat step 4 until asleep
WILD • Occurs during hypnogogic state • Steps: • 1) Relaxation • 2) Fall asleep, maintain consciousness • Count: “1, I’m dreaming, 2, I’m dreaming…” • Pay attention to and count breaths • Imagine self descending stairs, count steps
Aides • Reality Checks • Habitually check whether you are dreaming • Commercial Products • Eyewear detects REM sleep, shines dim light into eyes • Computer software produces sounds during the night • Things to do during MILD (Games, etc.)
Methods for Studying LDs • How do the researchers know when you are in a lucid dream? • Trained to clench hands/ move eyes while in a lucid dream • Accurate measure in 90% of reported lucid dreams studied.
A Distinct Altered State? • How is an LD different from daydreaming? • “Lucid dreamers are conscious of the absence of the sensory input from the external world…” -Laberge
Physiological Correlates • Typically occur in phasic (active) REM sleep. • Usually occur in the later sleep cycles • Characterized by greater arousal than NLD sleep
Conscious Control? • Many interesting willful actions may be preformed while in a LD • Control of respiration • Clenching of fists results in detectable movement of arm muscles • Sense of time remains intact
Therapeutic Values • LD can help treat recurring nightmares • 5 case studies using LD • One year follow up 4 no longer had nightmares, 1 had experienced a decrease in intensity and frequency • Becoming lucid, individual may directly alter the content of the nightmare
Recurring Nightmares • LD allows one to realize that the experience is a dream • Interactions with dream imagery can be altered, reducing uncontrollability • Also reduce perceived importance
Insight • Subjects interact with dream in a creative fashion • LD lead to important insight • Family, loved ones • Overcome or better adapt to its handicaps
Traditional Theories-Freud • Dreaming and waking cognition are discontinuous • Dreaming Cognition • Bizarre, “magical-thinking” • Waking Cognition • High degree of rationality, order and clarity
Discontinuity Theories • Reflective awareness • A conscious awareness of an ongoing internal or external event • “the mind not only knows the things that appear before it; it knows that it knows them”-William James • Hallmark of waking mind, lose capacity during sleep • Hobson • Abstract self-reference and a self-critical perspective are lost during dreaming.
Kahan & LaBerge (1994) • Phenomenon of lucid dreaming casts doubt on the common view that cognition during dreaming is inherently deficient • Study by Kahan, LaBerge, Levitan and Zimbardo (1997) • Conducted study to assess the cognitive, metacognitive and emotional qualities of recent waking and dreaming experiences.
Study (1997)-Kahan, LaBerge, Levitan and Zimbardo • Group 1=38 practiced dreamers • Group 2=50 “novice dreamers” • Methods • Record experiences from prior dreaming or waking episode • Fill out parallel questionnaires for a dreaming and a waking experience
Methods • Dreaming state • Report most clearly recalled dream • Answer questions assessing… • Choice, internal commentary, sudden/sustained attention, public self-consciousness related/unrelated to target event, private self-consciousness (self-reflection), emotion and unusual experience • Waking state • Report experiences from a prior 15-min period • Answer same questionnaire
Results-Comparisons • Waking episodes • Higher frequency of choice and self-reflection • Dreaming episodes • Public self consciousness, emotion • No Diff=internal commentary • No systematic differences between practiced and novice dreamers were observed. • W/exception of questions of attention
Concerns • Cognition of waking episodes might be correlated to characteristics of retrospective evaluations of waking cognition • Public-self consciousness suggests there is a self-critical perspective in dreaming…but might be due to solitary conditions of reporting waking experiences • Measurements are indirect • Narrative reports • Individuals’ recollections made in waking state
However… • Study not restricted to individuals practiced in dream recall or self-observation • Few differences between groups • None of the measured features was absent or infrequent in reports of either experience • Recollections of dreaming and waking experiences were similar for some cognitive features and different for others
Implications • Episodic recollections of waking/dreaming experiences more similar than different • Differences are more quantitative than qualitative • Did not reveal global deficiencies between experiences • All measured dimensions present in both experiences
Conclusion • Lucid Dreaming is a distinct altered state of consciousness • Studies with LD offer insight into the world of dreams, a long discussed topic of psychology and cogsci • The differences between the sleeping and waking levels of consciousness are not as disparate as previously believed
Questions • What do you think about the methods used to study LD? • Is LD an epiphenomenon of REM • During LD's, is cognition deficient or adapted to the context of an abstract environment? • What does this suggest about sleep/dreaming and consciousness?
References Blagrove, M, and S.J. Hartnell. "Lucid Dreaming: Associations With Internal Locus of Control, Need for Cognition and Creativity." Personality and Individual Differences 28 (2000): 41-47. Green, C.E.. Lucid Dreams. Oxford: Institute of Psychophysical Research, 1968. Kahan, Tracey L., et al. "Similarities and Differences between Dreaming and Waking Cognition: An Exploratory Study." Consciousness and Cognition 6 (1997): 132-147. LaBerge, Stephen P. "Lucid Dreaming: Psychophysiological Studies of Consciousness during REM Sleep." Sleep and Cognition (1990): 109-126. LaBerge, Stephen P. "Lucid Dreaming as a Learnable Skill: A Case Study." Perceptual and Motor Skills 51 (1980): 1039-1042. Zadra, Antonio L; Pihl, Robert O. “Lucid dreaming as a treatment for recurrent nightmares.” Psychotherapy & Psychosomatics. Vol 66(1), Jan-Feb 1997, pp. 50-55