It was fiction until recently. But reality always seems to keep pace with science fiction. This time an unexplored limit has been crossed. Real-time communication with dreaming people was achieved.
Enter another world
Ken Paller works at the Department of Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience at Northwestern University. He decided to try a new approach. He wanted to communicate with people while they were having a lucid dream. “Our experimental goal is to find out how to talk to an astronaut who is in another world. But this world is made based on memories stored in the brain, “he said. Finding a means of communication could open the door for future research to learn more about dreams.”
The study included 36 people. Some had minimal prior knowledge with clear dreams. Others were frequent lucid dreamers and one was a patient with narcolepsy. He often had lucid dreams.
They discovered that it was possible for people to follow instructions while dreaming. They could just do math, answer yes or no questions. They distinguished the difference between different sensory stimuli. Volunteers might respond by moving their eyes or contracting their facial muscles. Scientists refer to this as “interactive dreams”.
One participant was asked to subtract six out of eight while sleeping. He correctly pointed to “two” as his answer with movements of the eye from left to right.
18% of the tests showed clear and precise communication by the dreamer. “We found that people in REM sleep can interact with an experimenter. We have real-time communication with people who dream, “said Dr. Paller.
Future studies of dreams could use the same methods. We will evaluate cognitive abilities during dreams versus alertness, ”said lead author Karen Konkoly. With this study, scientists have more elements to aid understanding of dreams. And above all, what happens in our brain when we dream. In our sleep, can we talk to someone who is awake by our side? Maybe very soon.