A new study generated results indicating that individuals frequently having lucid dreams, where they can control the happenings in the dream, have the ability to self-reflect more than non-lucid dreamers. Reader, your dreams might be saying much more about you than you would have thought.
A new study has shed further light on lucid dreaming, which is defined as awareness during one’s dream. Those individuals able to have lucid dreams grow conscious that they are dreaming while they are dreaming such that they can take control of the happenings in the dream; controlling one’s dreams implies that the person can, to some extent, dream about anything he wishes to. This is a ‘privilege’ few enjoy. Lucid dreaming is recognized in the world of science but it is not as fully documented as we would want; the brain itself still hides so many secrets from us, and dreaming is just one of them.
An aspect relating to the mystery of lucid dreaming is why do some people have lucid dreams more often than others? Could they be markedly different from non-lucid dreamers in their daily lives? Studies in the past had brought forth data indicating that frequent lucid dreamers have greater insight in life, and that they tend to self-reflect to a larger extent. Some researchers asserted that lucid dreaming could be associated with meta-cognition. The new study goes many steps beyond what was already investigated by establishing possible links between lucid dreaming and thought monitoring at the level of neurons.
The findings of the research indicate that lucid dreamers have a larger self-reflection brain ‘compartment’ than those who do not have conscious dreams. The authors have suggested that lucid dreamers might be better at self-reflecting during wakefulness.
The lead author, Elisa Filevich, stated that:
“Our results indicate that self-reflection in everyday life is more pronounced in persons who can easily control their dreams.”
The researchers gathered participants and assigned them to different groups as per their lucid dreaming frequency. Their lucid dreaming ability was also studied after they were asked to respond to a questionnaire.
The structural and functional MRI scans of the participants were taken and compared with each other.
Differences in brain structure
The brain images showed that those who would regularly have lucid dreams had greater volume in a certain brain region. This was the anterior prefrontal cortex and it is involved in the controlling of conscious cognitive processes, as well as in self-reflection.
Differences in brain function
The group of frequent lucid dreamers showed more activity in their anterior prefrontal cortex during megacognitive tests when they were awake.
As conclusion, the scientists explained that meta-cognition – and specially thought monitoring – might be linked with lucid dreaming, with the two abilities sharing networks of neurons.
The team of authors now intend to test whether meta-cognitive skills can be improved through training.