Inside the Mind of the Dreamer

Project: Research project

Project Details


Sleep and dreaming have long mystified humanity. Countless theories have come and gone, while dreams have remained quite mysterious. Whereas neuroscience provides a solid basis for theorizing about sleep, when it comes to the conscious experiences of dreamers, we are still very much in the dark. The scientific study of dreaming has been hampered because we learn about another person’s dream content only retrospectively. Dream reports can be distorted when given later in the waking state, given the limited capacity we have to keep recent information in mind after the dream has ended, along with a very poor ability to form new memories in the sleep state. Our dreams are thus open to multiple interpretations with no clear path to scientific credibility. What if — instead of a dreamer merely telling us about a dream after waking up — we could interview him or her within the dream? In a sense, dreams take us to a different world, a different reality. The leap we will take in this research project would be akin to finding a way to talk to an astronaut who is walking on Mars for the first time. In this project we propose to converse with an astronaut-of-the-mind while she ventures into unknown territory. Even a giant leap must start with a small step: here we will demonstrate basic two-way communication with the experimenter issuing softly spoken questions and the dreamer responding with yes-or-no answers indicated by specific eye-movements patterns. Seed funding from a Tom Slick Research Award in Consciousness would enable lift-off for this new project, getting it off the ground and on to a trajectory in this very novel research direction. This new work on dreaming, a pivot from our prior research on hacking into memories during sleep, will open the door to a variety of potential applications and research advances in the study of consciousness, and it would also be a big step in putting the topic of lucid dreaming on a solid scientific foundation. This funding will help to revolutionize the study of dreams in order to deepen our understanding of consciousness.
Effective start/end date11/1/1810/31/19


  • Mind Science Foundation (Check #11948)


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