A Review of Lucid Dreaming

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Lucid Dreams, Between Waking and Dreaming?
A Review of Literature on Lucid Dreaming and Consciousness

Jules J. Buijs
Student number: 1488945

Review Paper Master Cognitive Neuropsychology
Supervisor: J. B. Deijen, PhD.
August 3, 2012

LUCID DREAMS, BETWEEN WAKING AND DREAMING?

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Abstract

Since the 1960’s, several studies have been carried out that proved the existence of lucid dreams (i.e. dreams in which the dreamer is aware that he/she is dreaming). Since then, an increasing amount of studies aimed at providing insight in the co gnitive aspects of lucid dreams and lucid dream consciousness. This review aimed at collecting these studies in order to provide a comprehensive overview of the results obtained in the last decades. Furthermore, studies that researched the cognitive and neuronal differences between lucid dreams and non-lucid dreams are discussed. Finally, an attempt was made to interpret several recent studies, which discuss the theoretical framework in which the lucid dream belongs. As the debate is ongoing, an unequivocal theory has not been brought forth so far. This review paper concludes with the notion that future research should focus on changes in network activation in order to demarcate the conscious and cognitive abilities of the lucid dream.

Keywords: Lucid Dreaming, Dreaming, Consciousness, Cognition

LUCID DREAMS, BETWEEN WAKING AND DREAMING?

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“The trick is to combine your waking rational abilities, with the infinite possibilities of your dreams” – Guy Forsyth

Introduction
That we can be aware of our dreams while we are dreaming was already noted by Aristotle. The first notion of the term Lucid Dreaming (LD) was published by Frederik van Eeden (1913), a famous Dutch writer, who reported these spontaneously occurring insightful dreams in his books. LDs have had enormous value to different native religions, shamans and wizards. They were said to be the message of the gods, a heightened form of consciousness or even a different realm of reality. In the Western civilization however, dreams are not important to our daily lives, let alone the LD (Spoormaker, 2006). We say to our children things like: “it was just a dream”, or “dreams are just dreams”. This has led to a certain degree of ignorance when it comes to dreams, the message s of our subconscious and the knowledge of different types of dreams. To the lay person, a LD is a conscious dream, or a dream in which one is aware of his dreaming state. However, to many researchers in this field, it is the most important link between dreaming and waking consciousness. Even in non-lucid dreaming, there is not a complete absence of cognition. Volition and agency seem to play a substantial role (Kozmová, 2012). An analysis by Wolman and Kozmová (2007) revealed eight higher-order rational thought processes: analytical, executive, subjective, affective, perceptual, memory and time awareness, intuitive -projective, and operational thought processes. However, LD signifies itself by something extra, an addition to the cognitive abilities mentioned here. An experience of additional consciousness, like being fully awake in one’s dream, with even some heightened senses, like exceptional brightness and visual clarity (Green, 1968.)

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There are only a handful of published researches on this topic that have proven the existence of LD, and even less that offer insight in the mechanisms involved. What type of consciousness manifests itself during a LD, and which abilities does the dreamer have? What causes having a LD? Who has LDs and what are the benefits? And more importantly, what distinguishes the LD from the non-lucid dream and waking consciousness? To make these questions more concrete, an example of a LD reported by a 20 year old male is given below (personal communication). For the first time in his life, after extensive training, somewhere during his dream he became aware of his...
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