Lucid dreaming - Control your dreams with virtual reality!

Who I am
Tom Chatfield
@tomchatfield

Summary

  • Game Transfer Phenomenon
  • Virtual reality is the key to lucid dreaming
  • Surreal experiences comparable to dreams
  • The human brain, a virtual reality generator
  • A revolution comparable to that of the engine
  • Augmented reality, even more disturbing for the human mind?

In 1990, Jayne Gackenbach gave his son a Nintendo console. Seeing him play for hours, she begins to worry. The mother feared that this time spent in fictional universes would disturb his mind. A fear felt by most parents. As a psychologist at MacEwan University, Jayne, however, decided to test this theory.



Game Transfer Phenomenon

After hours of staring at your smartphone while playing Pokémon GO, you will probably feel weird. You will be tempted to capture a stray dog ​​that you come across. This temporary mixture of virtual and reality has a name. We speak in English of a 

However, this phenomenon is not limited to waking periods. It also occurs during dreams, and while falling asleep. As Angelica B. Ortiz de Gortari, of the University of Liège explains, players see many images, or have felt movements at their fingertips when moving the joysticks. These information accumulated by the brain influences the content of dreams. This theory is confirmed by research carried out on players of World of Warcraft or Tetris.

While studying this phenomenon, Gackenbach noticed that gamers are more in control of their dreams than non-gamers. They are also more aware that they are dreaming. Players are therefore more inclined to experience what is scientifically called lucid dreaming. Spending time in a fictitious, controllable world could therefore allow players to see the dream world through the same prism.



More recently, Gackenbach has started to take an interest in virtual reality. The psychologist is convinced that VR headsets act on the brain, just like classic video games, and even more. Physically, virtual reality offers greater immersion than traditional games.

Virtual reality is the key to lucid dreaming

In at least June, the specialist presented a study at a conference. Participants in this study played a computer running game for 15 minutes. They then described their dreams the following night. Half of the participants played the game on the Oculus Rift. They got recalled their dreams with more lucidity than the others. The difference disappeared when the two groups described their dreams again the following week.

The conclusion drawn by Gackenbach is simple and without appeal. When a person's waking reality is altered, their memory changes. The more a person thinks he is in a reality, the more his memory is altered in other realities. A survey conducted by Gackenbach alongside his study shows that prolonged use of the Rift increases the chances of experiencing a lucid dream.

Surreal experiences comparable to dreams

Many virtual environments offer a surreal experience. Uses can swim in the seabed, fly in the skies, and many other activities not possible in life. Dreams have the same characteristics. That is why researchers believe VR can lead users to approach an unrealistic situation with more awareness.

Martin Dresler, a psychologist at Radboud University in Holland, believes that one technique for lucid dreaming is to think more about the dream. It is therefore plausible that immersion in dreamlike environments, such as virtual reality, increases the frequency of lucid dreaming.



The human brain, a virtual reality generator

Many psychologists have recently become convinced that the dreaming brain works like a virtual reality generator. It tests different representations of the world so that the dreamer is better prepared to endure new situations when awake.

For Patrick McNamara, neuropsychologist at Boston University, a virtual reality device is a simulation machine, just like the brain. These devices allow put the brain in a state similar to that of REM (rapid eye movement) seen during dreams.


A revolution comparable to that of the engine

As early as the 90s, art critic Jonathan Crary predicted that the development of computer graphics would lead to the creation of visual spaces radically different from photography and film. Of spaces in which viewers no longer see just a reflection of the real world.

Thus, virtual reality is similar to the arrival of the engine for trains and planes. This technology has profoundly altered the way humans perceive time and space.


Augmented reality, even more disturbing for the human mind?

Currently, virtual reality headsets are still too expensive to be massively adopted. However, the recent success of Pokémon GO hints at how much this technology could change society. Augmented reality is certainly less immersive than virtual reality, but can be even more disruptive to the brain. The virtual is superimposed on the real and creates confusion at the subconscious level.

Currently, Jayne Gackenbach is planning to conduct a new study to analyze the effects of this popular video game on human consciousness. She believes that augmented reality has a revolutionary future. The psychologist wonders, however, about the long-term consequences of such a change in perceptions.



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