16 February 2021

Dream a lucid dream of me

The Back Page

Researchers report successful communication with people who are dreaming, in a step towards being able to study what our brains really get up to when the lights are out.

Published in Current Biology, the study involved four teams in Europe and the US who communicated with a total of 36 subjects during lucid dreams – the kind where you realise you’re dreaming but can maintain that state and to some extent control it.  

The researchers established communication in various ways, through spoken words, beeps, flashing lights and “tactile stimuli”. They asked yes/no questions and posed simple maths problems, to which they report receiving correct responses – through facial signals rather than words – nearly 20% of the time.

As this is better than what The Back Page can manage at breakfast time, we are impressed.

One paw for yes …

“[T]he collection of results described here constitutes proof of concept of two-way communication during sleep, and thus opens the door to a new approach for scientific exploration of the dream state,” the authors confidently conclude.

But BP must have been watching too many horror movies lately as our mind went straight to the chilling cinematic possibilities the study suggests.

Hot scientist: Where are you?

Dreamer: A … a cave.

HS: What do you see?

D: A fire. People chanting. An altar. A beast with – with red eyes … Someone is … burning …

Or perhaps:

HS: Where are you?

D: Walking down a dark alley. There’s someone with a knife …

HS: Can you see the murderer’s face?

D: Yes … I … it’s …

Though this is of course the more realistic scenario:

HS: Where are you?

D: No … no, NOOO …

HS: What is it? Where are you?

D: Late for work … no trousers …

If you see something stupid, say something stupid … tell your longest and weirdest dreams to felicity@medicalrepublic.com.au.

COVID-19 live update