Have you ever heard of people talking in their sleep? If that seems unlikely to you, scientists just proved the opposite in a study published in Current Biology.
In fact, they identified the existence of a phenomenon called “interactive dreaming,” where deeply asleep people who have lucid dreams can answer closed questions, follow instructions, and even solve simple calculations.
Sleepers interacted with researchers while they slept
The field of dreaming continues to fascinate scientists, and sleep psychology in particular, including what goes on in our brains when we are dreaming. To learn more about interactive dreaming, the researchers studied 36 people in four different laboratories, one of whom suffered from narcolepsy and often had lucid dreams, while the rest had different experiences with lucid dreams.
Scientists put participants into deep sleep, using EEG instruments to monitor their brain activity, exposing them to sounds, flashing lights, and physical contact. For example, sleepers had to solve simple calculations or count flashing lights or answer yes or no questions.
Scientists put participants into a deep sleep and monitored their brain activity. Photo credit: Shutterstock / Yuganov Konstantin
The sleepers answered questions with pre-arranged eye movements or facial muscles. Interestingly, in 57 sessions, the sleepers gave at least one correct answer, and at the end of the session, the participant confirmed that it was. Clear dreaming in 47% of the sessions.
Finding it could help manage sleep, memory, and mental health problems
Northwestern University psychologist Ken Paller told ScienceAlert, “People in REM sleep can interact with an experimenter and communicate in real time. We have also found that dreamers are able to understand questions, perform working memory operations, and provide answers. “
Northwestern University neuroscientist Karen Konkoly added that the combination of results from four different laboratories with different approaches most convincingly testified to the reality of this two-way communication phenomenon. The researchers believe that this new channel of communication could lead to a wide variety of practical uses, particularly in treating mental health problems, treating sleep disorders, or even memory.