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Decoded: How some people control dreams
Sunday January 25, 2015 2:57 PM, IANS

Researchers have discovered that the brain area which enables self-reflection is larger in lucid dreamers.

Lucid dreamers are those who know that they are dreaming and accordingly can live out there.

They are also more self-reflecting when being awake, found the study.

Sometimes, they can even play an active role in their dreams.

"Our results indicate that self-reflection in everyday life is more pronounced in persons who can easily control their dreams," said Elisa Filevich from Centre for Lifespan Psychology at Max Planck Institute for Human Development.

Lucid dreaming is closely related to the human capability of self-reflection - the so-called metacognition.

Neuroscientists have compared brain structures of frequent lucid dreamers and participants who never or only rarely have lucid dreams.

The anterior prefrontal cortex, i.e., the brain area controlling conscious cognitive processes and playing an important role in the capability of self-reflection, is larger in lucid dreamers.

The differences in volumes in the anterior prefrontal cortex between lucid dreamers and non-lucid dreamers suggest that lucid dreaming and metacognition are indeed closely connected.

This theory is backed by the brain images taken when test persons were solving metacognitive tests while being awake.

Those images show that the brain activity in the prefrontal cortex was higher in lucid dreamers.

The researchers further want to know whether metacognitive skills can be trained.

In a follow-up study, they intend to train volunteers in lucid dreaming to examine whether this improves the capability of self-reflection.

The study appeared in the Journal of Neuroscience.

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