What’s the Latest Development?
Researchers applied electrodes to the scalps of 72 test subjects and, once they fell asleep and entered a dream state — as indicated by brain activity — zapped them with 30-second bolts of electric current with frequencies ranging from two to 100 hertz (Hz). They then woke the subjects and asked them to describe their dreams. Seventy-seven percent of those who received a hit of 40 Hz reported being aware of their dream state while sleeping, a phenomenon commonly known as lucid dreaming.
What’s the Big Idea?
Lucid dreaming corresponds with gamma wave activity in the brain’s frontal cortex. Normally, this type of activity isn’t present during sleep. However, not only did it increase as a result of the electrical stimulation, subsequent lucid dreams without stimulation showed an even greater increase. Researcher Ursula Voss of J.W. Goethe-University Frankfurt says, “We were surprised that it’s possible to force the brain to take on a frequency from the outside, and for the brain to actually vibrate in that frequency and actually show an effect.” Details of the study appear in Nature Neuroscience.
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