Lucid dreaming – the ability to know you are dreaming and gain control of the dream – has been studied by people throughout the world. Many people wish they could examine and practice lucid dreaming at will. Researchers, just this year, have had success inducing lucid dreaming when they stimulated the lower gamma band during REM sleep. Lucid dreaming can not only provide a look inside at the mysteries of our unconscious mind, but can also be used as a means to get to the cause of, and hopefully treat, traumatic memories, or long-term nightmares.
Psychologist Ursula Voss from the Goethe University in Frankfort, Germany, led a team of scientists in successfully inducing lucid dreams in their test subjects by stimulating specific regions within their brain with a low volt of electricity. This study was conducted in order to understand the biology of lucid dreaming.
Our brain activity progresses through a cycle of slowing alpha waves that lead us down to deep sleep’s delta and theta waves. We dream during REM sleep and our brainwaves actually speed up at this time. The rest of our brain is acting as if it were awake. Gamma activity in the frontotemporal region is noted during REM sleep.
The frontotemporal region controls executive functioning, processes complex stimuli, aids in decision making and gives each human self-awareness. Voss’ team theorized that when gamma levels are high in the frontotemporal region, the brain is experiencing REM sleep.
They tested this theory by placing electrodes on the scalp in order to stimulate the brain. The Transcranial Alternating Current Stimulation (tACS) sends electrical currents in the gamma frequency directly to the frontotemporal region of the scalp. Those studied tended to report more dreams upon waking.
While not something that should be used for home use, this treatment may offer help for patients suffering from post-traumatic stress disorders, sleep disorders, and possibly even depression and anxiety. Sleep, especially REM sleep, is important in order for our brain to form memories; and sleep is much needed in order to regenerate our brain from the daily bombardment of information.
In 2004 and 2007, Swiss neuroscientist, Olaf Blanke, proved that out of body experiences can certainly be induced by stimulating the tempro-parietal junction. By stimulating the temporal lobe he has had patients report spiritual experiences as well as sensory hallucinations.
Because our brain relies on electrical currents to function properly, researches will always be looking for newer ways to tap into the brain’s activities and record their results. Although it is not always wise to alter the brainwaves into abnormal states, researchers will forever study any abnormalities of the brain in order to learn what makes our brain work, and what doesn’t. Studying abnormalities as they naturally occur in the human brain, and as part of a clinical study will help build dialog between interested parties on what constitutes a normal mind, and what may be beyond normal. The brain is still a mystery, but researchers will continue to find ways to examine our sleep cycles with minimal electrical shocks.
Source: The Mind Unleashed
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