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Researchers Use Electrical Zaps to Induce Lucid Dreaming

Update Date: May 12, 2014 01:52 PM EDT
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A new study has reportedly induced lucid dreaming by using electrical zaps. According to the researchers, a mild electrical jolt can make people aware of their dreams and give them some kind of control over the plot as well. Even though the research is preliminary, the team of scientists believes that this kind of study can reveal a lot about the human brain, especially when it is on a different level of consciousness.

"It tells us something about what makes us human: higher-order consciousness," explained study author Ursula Voss, a psychology professor at J.W. Goethe-University in Frankfurt, Germany according to Philly. "You suddenly realize that this must be a dream, that it is not real, but it goes on nonetheless. Sometimes, if you are trained in becoming lucid, you can gain some limited control of the plot."

For this study, the researchers recruited 27 participants. The researchers waited for the patients to fall asleep and when they were three minutes into REM sleep, which is when dreams occur, the researchers used mild electrical zaps to stimulate the brain. After the doses of electricity were finished, the researchers immediately woke up the participants and asked them about their dreams.

The researchers found that many of the participants had realized that they were dreaming during their dreams. For example, one volunteer detailed the dream and stated, according to NBC News, "I was dreaming about lemon cake. It looked translucent, but then again, it didn't. It was a bit like in an animated movie, like the 'Simpsons,' then I realized 'Oops, you are dreaming.' I mean, while I was dreaming! So strange!"

Since the study is very new, the researchers do not recommend people to fool around with electrical stimulation unless they are at a real research center. Other experts, such as Robert Stickgold, director of the Center for Sleep and Cognition at Harvard Medical School, stated that experimenting with the brain in general could lead to complications since the brain is such a complex organ.

"Your brain is not just lazing about while you sleep. It's doing a lot of critical work, most of it having to do with processing memories from the day," Stickgold said. "The answer is to leave your brain alone. It knows what it's doing."

The study was published Nature Neuroscience.

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