While the person is having a lucid dream, the researchers ask the dreamer questions and have them respond by using eye movements.

What happens when we dream? Why is our brain creating these scenarios and events in our head? How does it choose what we want or need to see? Those are questions about dreams that we still don’t have much knowledge about, but couldn’t we just ask the dreamer about their dreams while it is happening?

According to researchers at Northwestern University, that’s the approach they are going for. This is done while the person is having a lucid dream, which is a dream where the dreamer is aware that they are dreaming and claim to be able to actually control their dreams to a certain degree. The researchers are leveraging this by asking the dreamer questions and have them respond by using eye movements or muscle contractions.

The researchers found that dreams were able to follow instructions as well as being able to answer yes or no questions, solve simple mathematical equations, and could also differentiate between visual tactile and auditory sensory stimuli. According to Karen Konkoly, cognitive neuroscientist at Northwestern, “This demonstrates it is possible to correctly perceive external stimuli and perform the operations necessary for answering, all while remaining asleep.”

However, it seems that this study isn’t exactly a resounding success. It seems that out of the 158 attempts at two-way communication during REM sleep, only 18.4% produced correct responses, but Ken Paller, director of Northwestern’s Cognitive Neuroscience Program, claims that is enough.

According to Paller, “We only needed findings from a handful of people to convincingly demonstrate that two-way communication is possible, which was our primary conclusion. We showed that it can even happen in individuals with minimal prior experience with lucid dreaming.” It is hoped that with these findings, their method could be used to further research dreams and other cognitive activities like memory, offer therapy for nightmares, spiritual development, and problem solving.

Originally published at Ubergizmo