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Scientists Achieve Real-Time Communication with Lucid Dreamers in Breakthrough (vice.com)
126 points by elsewhen 16 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 60 comments

Starting development on Dream Adblocker

So that's why I suddenly want to buy Lightspeed Briefs.

Frankly, I can imagine a full-page ad in New Yor Times arguing that the forthcoming legislation against ads in dreams is hurting small businesses.

Whats happening with hypnosis? Is it similar?

Recently read about David Eaglemans theory that dreams are just the visual cortex defending its territory when all its inputs are off for the night (ie staying active to prevent neighboring regions from poaching neurons) - https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.07.24.219089v1

Here too they seem to be dealing with the visual parts.

I just read the abstract. Does he address the objection that nocturnal animals sleep in the day, and length of sleep doesn't change as much as the length of day over the seasons?

If your eyes are closed, does it matter if it’s daytime?

Oh maybe I misinterpreted. I thought the author was arguing that the purpose of sleep was this protection of the visual cortex, but maybe the idea is that sleep has another purpose (with varying timing thoughout the day depending on the animal) and the purpose of dreams is to protect the visual cortex while this is going on.

I've read a bit about the scientology cult and their hypnosis technique seems similar. This article mentions that the sleeping person hears the command or question as a megaphone type of sound definitely coming from outside the dream. Perhaps an average person perceives such a "megaphone narrator" as trustworthy and remembers the heard commands as important.

If anyone is interested in using dreams as a part of spiritual practice I recommend reading 'The Tibetan Yogas of Dream and Sleep' by Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche. Carrying awareness from wakefulness to sleep is one of those things in your life you'll never forget.

Kinda sad that only 18% of participants could respond. Who knows, maybe you could have whole groups of people entering one anothers dreams.. Would be great for interrogations, setting up archetypal areas like airport checkpoints to gain access to the identification part of someones subconscious. Might be less tinfoil than you think.

Many years ago I was stopped in a UK high street by a saffron-robed mendicant who offered me a free book (in return for a donation, which I found an amusing definition of free). I refused it, but for some reason the title stuck with me: "Easy Journey to Other Planets".

Even in later years when I researched lucid dreaming and remote viewing, I never actually got around to getting and reading it - anyone else able to save me the trouble and let me know if it is worth the time?

There is another great book on the subject, The Yoga of Dream and Natural Light my Namkhai Norbu and Michael Katz. It's kinda fascinating that a thousand years ago Tibetans were exploring this fascinating subject in depth - with precise methods, scriptures and so on - while at the same time in Europe theologians were debating how many devils could be fit on the tip of a needle.

The latter was a debate about materialism, and whether the divine had any physical component (in which case there was a finite number of angels on a pin), or did not (and therefore infinite), with consequences for the debates about whether divinity is a falsifiable hypothesis.

Intelligent people were having intelligent debates.

It's as though even the European theologians were embarrassed and were simply trolling with thought experiments like that.

Your comment is akin to saying “it’s so embarrassing that Plato was having thought experiments about spelunking.”

Your comment — and the one to which it responds — is cringeworthy.

It doesn't make logical sense. How people can enter one anothers dreams? We can not see whats going in another person's head.

>Roughly 18 percent of the trials resulted in this level of clear and accurate communication from the dreamer; 17 percent produced indecipherable answers, 3 percent ended with incorrect responses, and 60 percent did not provoke any response at all.

This is essentially random chance.

Perhaps this is common knowledge, but I was surprised to learn that lucid dreaming is a skill that can be practiced, rather than a random occurrence.

Here’s a previous HN thread on the topic: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4047370, and the main subreddit: https://www.reddit.com/r/LucidDreaming.

Yep, I practiced it for a year over 25 years ago and I can do it all the time. I am usually lucid multiple times a nice. Would not want to miss it for the world.

I kept a journal and practiced for a while, and eventually could lucid dream somewhat consistently with a few simple techniques plus melatonin.

Here is my question: do you find that you're actually rested when you lucid dream? I always found myself exhausted, so I stopped trying, and in my case the skill has atrophied. But I'm not sure if that was only due to my technique and if it would have improved in time.

Can you control whether you are lucid or not? I would be annoyed at the prospect of being "locked in" to having lucid dreams every night instead of the typical unconsciousness

> 36 participants > 18% > “many” people reported

Let’s not overstate the findings here.

The finding is that it is possible. Not everybody is able to perform it, though. It's difficult to stay focused and aware when lucid dreaming - it takes practice.

how do you even get 18% from 36 participants? 7/36 = 19.4% and 6/36 = 16.6%. I know they said "roughly" but I don't see why how you could round to that number.

Could be that each dreamer participated in multiple trials

Possibly a combination of rounding all the numbers and having the constraint it must sum to 100%

> “We’ve thought of so many experiments we could do with this,” Konkoly said. “I think one predicate that we're working on now is: how can we optimize the procedure? How can we have this happen more? How can we have people have more lucid dreams? How can we communicate more reliably?”

Do we want people to have more lucid dreams? I personally think it's an experience everyone should have at least once, as it gives you an appreciation for the brain's ability to construct reality out of nothing, but I also think it's an addictive activity that disrupts sleep without many other benefits.

does it disrupt sleep?

If you're new at it and you're trying to induce them as much as possible, then you're going to be falling asleep and waking up at arbitrary times, or trying to trick your brain into remaining awake while the rest of your body falls asleep. Also, if you have a particularly intense lucid dream, it's not uncommon to wake up immediately after. So I would say yes, if lucid dreaming doesn't come naturally to you, then inducing them will disrupt your natural sleep patterns.

I have them almost every night (I trained for it when I was 19 and it stuck); when I don't have at least one, I feel far fitter and slept-out than if I did not have one. So I would say it helps sleep. Devices like the Apple Watch or other sleep measuring devices do note that 50-60% of my nights are spent in deep sleep, which, apparently, is a lot.

so, what you're saying is that from your experience lucid dreaming does not impact sleep quality negatively - correct? if I'm understanding you correctly you'd even say it impacts sleep quality positively (?)

That is my experience yes.

Some techniques require you wake up in the middle of the night before going back to sleep. Personally I've always had far higher success with these methods than others.

An interesting video about this work: https://youtu.be/7M06fJxiayo

I know it's possible, but this puts communication with patients in a coma into the realm of possible, scientifically.

Imagine having a interactive choose your own adventure story read to you while you lucid dream. That would be insane.

I can't be the only one who has tried to get a sleep-talking sibling to reveal their secrets.

Does anyone else find this research kind of creepy? It sounds like the beginning of a horror movie.


Yeah I can see why some people find it creepy. I find it fascinating. Once you have your first "out of normal" experience, then you start looking into more.

Brain waves in REM are similar to the awakening stage, from a daytime perspective tries to sort out what was during the day and maybe offer solutions by morning.

Have a good read from ‘When Brains Dream’ (Zadra & Stickgold 2021)

It would be nice to get my workday done in a dream. Then I could wake up and do whatever I wanted in actual reality. However, if communication can be worked out, I guess the opposite would be true as well.

Have you ever thought that's what you're doing? When you wake up and go about your day, you've plugged into the Earth simulation after a day's work. Then you go to sleep and wake up in the base reality and go to work.

I don't really believe that mind you, but it's fun to think about.

I think this would be detrimental. Dreaming is, more or less, your brain's GC cycle, so it's not a path you want to put arbitrary "computation" on.

Based only on my own experience I feel very strongly that an important element of sleep is testing. Seeing how I would react in various situations, with a particular focus on situations in which in real life I've performed below expectation, until I seem to get it consistently right in the dream. Also testing how much I would enjoy a result I work toward or consider working toward when awake.

You'd wake up exhausted.

Invest in a mouth guard first...

You must have very pleasant nightmares.

Not a breakthrough. This was first done by Laberge over 25 years ago.

No. La Berge showed that lucid dreamers can reach out to their external environment (dreamer->experimenter), he did not show that they can react to external inputs (experimenter->dreamer).

I read the book when it came out so perhaps my memory is faulty, but I was pretty sure they tried different mechanisms for prompting the lucid dream.

One of them was embedding LEDs in a sleep mask. When their waves showed they were in REM sleep, the experimenters would flash the LEDs as a prompt to the dreamer to interact. They would respond either with a prepared eye left/right pattern or by clenching their fist. I don't recall asking them to do higher level thinking, such as simple subtraction problems, though.

Right, in some of these attempts cues are learned before the participants fall asleep, so that they react to it while dreaming. One could argue that the distinction is subtle, and La Berge could've found the results these groups are showing today, had he ran the experiment. Nonetheless, experimenter->dreamer communication during sleep as suggested in this paper is AFAIK indeed new.


I've successfully done this in my own lucid dreaming sessions. Solving math problems, composing poetry and music, conversing with people while in between. Maybe I should reach out...

With people outside your dreams? I talk with people in my dreams a lot, but not with people outside them while I am dreaming.

Yes. Very basic stuff. Groans, twitches. I want to find the time to train myself on a keyboard, that coveted holy grail.

I've practiced lucid dreaming for over a decade and I've developed a few tricks over the years. I need to get serious about developing things further and finding studies to participate in.

My dog is the most prolific dreamer I've ever met. I'd love to know what's going on in there.

Great, now my employees can work while they sleep. Twice the productivity. - Elon Musk probably.

But how many levels do we need to go down to perform an inception?

I don’t know why — and forgive the potentially low value comment — but the headline alone made me recall the movie “Flatliners” from the 90s, which I saw way too young, and which thoroughly terrified me.

Could the eye signals be random, couldn’t they?

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