Scientists Have Induced Lucid Dreaming with Electric Shocks

Illustration for article titled Scientists Have Induced Lucid Dreaming with Electric Shocks

We're one step closer to on-demand dreaming you can control, after a recent study showed that applying a mild electrical current to the scalp can induce lucid dreaming. It sounds a little bit like Inception, only with more science and less espionage. It also sounds pretty fun.


The study itself was pretty simple. Based on previous research that suggested lucid dreaming was a unique state with properties of both REM sleep and waking, Dr. Ursula Voss of Johann Wolfgang Goethe-University in Germany and her team applied electrical stimulation to the brains of 27 subjects while they slept. Neither the experimenter nor the subject knew how much of an electric shock was being administered—if any at all—but brains scans showed an increase in brain activity in the frontal and temporal areas at around 40-hertz. This also happens to be the same frequency at which Dr. Voss's previous experiments showed lucid dreaming took place.

The correlation is no coincidence. The experimenters found that the electrical stimulation not only "influences ongoing brain activity" but also "induces self-reflective awareness in dreams." In other words, it causes lucid dreaming. Scientists hope this new technique will help with psychiatric research, especially for conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder.


This isn't the first technique that's claimed to induce lucid dreaming. Over the years, all kinds of silly masks and glasses have claimed to provide an Inception-like experience. This one seems just, well—it seems more scientific. [Nature Neuroscience via Guardian]

Image via Legendary Pictures

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Is there any indication/research/testing/evidence etc on whether lucid dreaming is as restful as non-lucid dreaming?

i ask this as a life long pot smoker. I recently quit weed, but i have found my dreams have become (while still non lucid) hyperrealistic, 8k, 7.1 surround sound events that feel like they last all night long - for example, if i wake up to go the washroom, the dreams are waiting for me when i get back, and pick up where they left off. They are extremely high energy/high stress/fast motion dreams.

i don't find this kind of high rez dreaming restful in the slightest, and is the primary reason for the few cheats i've had since deciding to quit - simply wanting a night off from the multimedia gong show in my sleeping brain. I think that this is associated with marijuana's effects on memory - dreams are (by some indications) a byproduct of your brain writing short term to long term memory, and smoking weed interferes with the process, hence the dialed down dreams. With a clear head, i am not used to the volume at which I dream and it affects how rested i feel the next day.

So it would seem to me that having your brain/consciousness awake during your rest period would result in less rest, no?