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Theories of dreaming and lucid dreaming IJoDR

Theories of dreaming and lucid dreaming:
An integrative review towards sleep, dreaming
and consciousness
Nicolas Zink & Reinhard Pietrowsky
Heinrich-Heine-University, Düsseldorf, Department of Clinical Psychology, Düsseldorf,

Summary. The present review gives an overview on common theories of dreaming with a specific emphasis on how
they are able to explain lucid dreaming. The theories are grouped either to such that describe structural or biological
processes of dreams or to such that describe evolutionary and adaptive functions of dreams. This overview shows that
none of the theories outlined is fully capable of explaining neither non-lucid dreaming nor lucid dreaming. With respect to
the first group, the concept of “protoconsciousness” is the theory that at best explains lucid dreaming. With respect to
theories with an evolutionary and adaptive function of dreams, those theories, that stress the problem solving or simula-
tion functions of dreams are more suited to explain lucid dreaming. Further, aspects that induce or amplify lucidity and
the neural mechanisms that may be involved in lucid dreaming are described.

Keywords: Lucid dreaming, lucidity, evolutionary functions, dreaming, consciousness, dream theories, protoconsciousness

1. Introduction and theories proposing evolutionary and adaptive functions
for dreaming. In other words: theories that explain how
Over the last several decades an effort has been made to
dreaming works and theories that explain why the dreaming
shed light on the phenomenon of lucid dreaming and the
process evolved in our ancestors. We thus put an emphasis
factors associated with this ability. The phenomenon of
on lucid dream research and its compatibility with current
lucid dreams in REM sleep was verified in the late 1970s
dream theories.
(Hearne, 1978; LaBerge, 1980a). It is defined as the fact
that a dreamer is aware that he is dreaming while dreaming
(e.g., LaBerge, 1980a, Spoormaker & van den Bout, 2006). 2. The epidemiology of lucid dreaming
Although some authors defined lucid dreams as a hybrid Lucid dreaming is defined as the fact that a dreamer is aware
state of consciousness that has definable and measurable that he is dreaming while dreaming (e.g., LaBerge, 1987;
differences from both waking and REM sleep (e.g., Voss, Spoormaker & van den Bout, 2006). Tholey and Utecht
Holzmann, Tuin, & Hobson, 2009), others argue that lucid (1987) added more criteria to this phenomenon, such as
dreaming is not a dissociative hybrid mixture of waking and awareness of freedom of decision, memory of the waking
dreaming and that REM sleep is capable of supporting re- state, and full intellectual abilities. However, only very few
flective consciousness (e.g., LaBerge, 2010). Nevertheless of all lucid dreams seem to fulfill all of Tholey and Utecht´s
many questions regarding the prevalence of lucid dreams criteria (Barret, 1992). In a representative German sample
(LD), as well as the trait and state personality factors related Schredl and Erlacher (2011) found that 51% of all partici-
to them remain open. Several proposals have been made pants had experienced a lucid dream at least once in their
for integrating dreaming into broader theories of conscious- life. An Austrian representative survey by Stepansky et al.
ness (Hobson, Pace-Schott, & Stickgold, 2000; Revonsuo, (1998) showed that 26% of the sample had experienced the
2006; Windt & Noreika, 2011). In order to integrate data on phenomenon of LD. In another unselected student sample,
LD into present dream theories we subdivided them into 82% reported having experience with becoming aware that
theories that explain structural and biological processes they were in a dream (Schredl & Erlacher, 2004). Still, the
proportion of lucidity among all recalled dreams is small,
according to some studies only 0.3% to 0.7% of all recalled
Corresponding address: dreams are related to this specific state of mind (Barret,
Prof. Dr. Reinhard Pietrowsky, Henrich-Heine-Universität 1992; Zadra, Donderi, & Phil, 1992). Schredl and Erlacher
Düsseldorf, Klinische Psychologie, Universitätsstr. 1, 40225 (2011) found a higher rate (7.5%) of all dreams to be lucid,
Düsseldorf, Germany. whereas Erlacher, Stumbrys and Schredl (2011) found the
Tel.: *49-(0)211-8112140, percentage of lucid dreams compared to all dreams in Ger-
Fax: *49-(0)211-8114261 man athletes to be twice as high as in the general popula-
E-Mail: tion (14.5% vs. 7.5%; Schredl & Erlacher, 2011). Neverthe-
less, the exact proportion of lucid dream remains uncertain.
Submitted for publication: December 2014 Regarding gender differences, Schredl and Erlacher
Accepted for publication: April 2015 (2011) found that lucid dream recall was significantly higher

International Journal of Dream Research Volume 8, No. 1 (2015) 35

Giam. 1996. this gender difference might be ex.3. tor task in a lucid dream. to this model. 2005. Pagel. Structural and biological theories of dreams awareness and cognitive control in dreams remains unclear. Jung & Grodsky. This would explain Wyneandts-Francken. 1997. As far as LD is concerned the role of reverse learning for 3. it may be possible to have memory consolida- 60-74 years compared to 15-19 years. Bozzer & Morlock. it might be assumed that lu- termine the activation pattern of dreaming. The physical practice group had the high- tional epiphenomenon constructed by erratically activated est enhancement in performance followed by the success- memories during REM sleep. strength by means of a controlling action in the experienced The main problem of RAT is that they cannot explain why dream. whereas the other lucid dreamer showed hypothesis. but a neuropsychological model can help to explain formal dif- 3. In line with the psychological In the following. Stickgold and Pace-Schott (1998) revised the not explain consciousness during dreams. Reverse Learning Theory ferences between dream activity and wake state: The AIM Model proposes that on a neurophysiological level all con- The reverse learning theory introduces the notion that the scious states (including dreaming) are determined by three process of dreaming resembles to an ‚off-line’ computer interdependent processes:. whereas Borbely (1984) found a higher DRF in the group of Thus. It thus remains a task to establish the prevalence gold. no improvement. while incidence drops at about process during REM sleep (Stickgold. 1995. cess could regulate excessive plasticity and weakens over quency of nightmares in women (e. which is seen as cid dreams would counteract the equalization of memory a functionless side effect of sleep-related brain activation. the form of dreams is so well organized (Valli & Revonsuo. since the cortex must cope with this vast amount of All conscious states can be described as a point in a three- 36 International Journal of Dream Research Volume 8.. which may act as a treatment for nightmares. twice as many women as men used LD for problem solv. In a large sample tion with a ‘forward’ learning process as well as a reverse of school children and young adults. memory. of strong and dominant emotional memories produces a Large-scale studies showed that DRF diminishes with age better recovery of memories and can also produce a clear (Giambra et al.. 2004) and could also help to explain aspects of the and differences of lucid dream frequency by partialling out psychological healing theory and the affective network dys- other correlating factors such as DRF. Thus. 1907. unwanted material. The theories strength of traumatic memories after REM sleep which may are grouped to either structural and biological theories of lead to a better psychological balance. Walker & Stick- 16 years. that means the levels of activation of aminer- ing life activities is shifted and unwanted material is thrown gic and cholinergic neuromodulators (Hobson et al. Why and how does the brain create a coherent and 3. Zink & Pietrowsky. So. function model (see below). Kinouchi and Kinouchi (2002) developed a computational ing. since er. dream narrative.g. Vann. They showed that equaliz- Schredl and Erlacher (2011) also found that lucid dream ing the strength of all memory clusters in their model by recall is negatively correlated with age. Hob. the mode (M). Frenzel. This why dreams tend to be easily forgotten. which are the level of brain acti- mode during dreaming (Crick & Mitchison. information gathered during wak. who were asked to practice a simple mo- The random activation theories (RAT) state that dreaming tor task. Random Activation Theories lucid dream practice group. Koppe. and forget unnecessary information and to regulate unwant- bra. During vation (A). Lucid dreamers. 1996. ed modes of acquired neural network interaction as a ‚re- Schredl. 2003) which stable brain activation patterns during the dream or REM was associated to be accompanied by a higher lucid dream sleep. 1998). 2013). These authors argued that the difference between men model to test the hypothesis that the reverse learning pro- and women could be explained by the generally higher fre. the aim of the dream process is to eliminate call frequency (DRF) rate than men (Borbely. it does Hobson.1998. In a study by Schädlich and Erlacher (2012) nearly they are supposed to be disposable. the re- conclusion is supported by a correlation coefficient of . who were able to practice a mo- is a synthesis of random cerebral image activation. fective network dysfunction model. Schredl & Piel. out. Schredl . In a pilot study. Schredl. if a reverse learning neurochemical processes occurring during REM sleep de. AIM Model detailed simulation of the world? Even though random acti- vation could lead to more organized dream content. showed a significant improvement son and McCarley (1977) proposed an activation-synthesis in performance. the same weakening the stronger ones revealed that the downgrade problem with DRF as a possible mediator variable occurs. 1 (2015) . learning mechanism.IJoDR Theories of dreaming and lucid dreaming in women. functions that might extend the general memory integration nounced in young children. organized in a systematic way with clear narratives. However. The neurophysiological and ful lucid dream practice group. 1984. In their model they produced a pool of weak and prevalence. and a control group. and REM sleep and dreaming. & Altomare. However. nightmares.2. dream content is specific for individuals.. 2009). for example lu. an overview on theories of dreaming and healing theory emotional unlearning results in an impaired their compatibility to lucid dreaming is made. information in order to maintain the efficient organization of plained by the fact that women report a higher dream re. Stepansky et al. strong or dominant memories. mechanism underlies dreams. 1983). whereby dreaming is nothing but a nonfunc. 2011).57 verse learning theory cannot explain why dreams are often between DRF and lucid dream frequency (Schredl & Erlach. 2000).. Voss. a physical practice group. Regarding the af- dreaming or evolutionary and adaptive functions of dreams. 2003. Erlacher and Schredl (2010) compared a 3.1. 2002). verse learning’ or ‚unlearning’ function. According tures and contents. The emotional unlearning process has hele-Gossel and Hobsen (2012) found LD to be quite pro. failure of emotional Table 1 and 2 summarizes the theories and their possible unlearning may be associated with chronic posttraumatic predictive value for lucid dreaming. 2005. activation-synthesis hypothesis and developed a cognitive cidity and interindividual differences in certain dream struc. Thus. the origin of inputs (I) to the activated areas. No. model of sleep (Hobson & Pace-Schott.

International Journal of Dream Research Volume 8. 1994. I and M. 2011. Reverse Aim of the dream process is to eliminate and for. time-consuming and lifelong process that con. that means the levels of activation of aminergic and cholinergic neuromodulators. Levitan.. normally deactivated in sleep. The role of reverse learning for awareness and Learning get unnecessary information.. model. Green. and develops along with brain development. memory strength by means of a controlling ac- tion in the dream. Yuschak. 2012). (2000) 1968. (2000) state that the fact that lucidity can arise dissociative state and a hybrid mixture of waking and REM when the DLPFC is deactivated can also be explained using sleep (Voss et al. all conscious Lucid dreaming is a hybrid state lying across the states can be described as a point in a three-di. It is a gradual. only (DLPFC). and is not supported by empirical evidence. which make it more what it is. 1983a. the origin of inputs (I) to the activated areas. part of a dream. Dur. that subserves self-reflective awareness. Autosuggestion may increase the probability of plausible to classify lucid dreaming in the AIM model in the this process by priming the brain circuitry in prefrontal areas same place as non-lucid REM sleep. Buzzi (2011) have argued that like lucid bic systems (Voss et al. Stumbrys (2011) points are not misinterpreted as coming from the outside world. 1 (2015) 37 . is a continuum with “lucidity” and “non-lucidity” representing the two ends of the dimension. lucidity — a combination of dreams. ondary consciousness in the wake state. out that the assumption of Hobson that lucid dreaming is a Hobson et al. Several studies have reported an association of lucid the AIM Model represents the mind state as a sequence of dreams with false awakenings (FAs. No. Thus. is reactivated but to discover subsequently that the apparent awakening was not so strongly as to suppress signals to it from pontolim. and the mode (M). It can be explained as a mensional space: the level of brain activation (A). enough for the subject to recognize the dream state for 1989. Stumbrys et al. and anxiety level. Hearne.wake REM interface. LD occurs spontaneously or can be induced by several cy between the model and the lucid dreaming phenomenon methods (see below. so the portion representing the DLPFC can take a of some frontal brain areas along the “A”-axis of the AIM position dissociated from that of the rest of the brain. cid dreams would counteract the equalization of tional responses. the AIM model accommodates these features ing this partial reactivation of the DLPFC during dreaming. AIM-Model On a neurophysiological level. 2009). Theories of dreaming and lucid dreaming IJoDR Table 1.Low as with non-lucid dreaming. 2004. In both cases.. Lu- Theory lates brain activation patterns to optimize emo. Spontane. dimensional space spanned by the axes A. Activation tivation and a nonfunctional epiphenomenon Theory constructed by erratically activated memories during REM-sleep. fear learning.g. points with time as a fourth dimension. La Berge explain the phenomenon of LD as dissociation along the “A” & DeGracia. Structural & Biological Theories Compatibility with Lucid Dreaming Random Dreaming is a synthesis of random cerebral ac. REM-sleep regu. Protoconsciousness Waking and dreaming states cooperate and Lucidity in dreams may occur when the REM have a functional interplay that is necessary for sleep state overlaps with components of sec- the optimal functioning of both. Continuity Dreams are assumed to reflect previous waking Lucidity in dreams exists in all dreams and there Hypothesis life experiences. FAs are also a hybrid state of consciousness with waking insight combined with dream hallucinosis — occurs. different features of dream state are combined stantly builds on and maintains consciousness into a hybrid state of consciousness. It was argued ous lucidity indicates that the reduced amount of reflective that there is some evidence against Hobsons assumption self-awareness during dreaming is sometimes enhanced about lucid dreaming (Brylowski. This dissociation is represented in the AIM model by split. Buzzi. 2000) . and that the onset of FAs is connected to activation levels ting AIM.sleep-related experiences in which the axis of the AIM Model. Thus. dissociation along the A-axis of the AIM-model. e. If the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex subjects erroneously believe that they have woken up. Hobson et al. definable differences from waking and from REM sleep. There is a relative continuity of consciously ac- cessible memory linking lucid dreams and wak- ing experience. the phenomenon of lucidity clearly illustrates the dissociable quality of brain-mind states. Overview on the structural and biological theories of dreaming and their compatibility with lucid dreaming. LaBerge. and LaBerge. Thus. 2006). cognitive control in dreams remains unclear. by proposing that both LD and FAs are hybrid states lying internally generated dreams are seen for what they are and across the wake-REM interface. Green & McCreery. 2009) rather helps to maintain consisten- AIM.

lucid dreaming. and emo. in particular for traumatic inci. Costly REM features influence dream content. is assumed. An evolutionary basis that Function information in new ways that were evolutionarily useful. The unconscious communicates to the dreamer in a compensatory function in order to be- come more complete and have more meaning in life.value for a possible function of lucid sive wishes until it can pass a censorship instance and dreaming. REM-sleep light cues or physiological arousal are increases the level of brain activity and prepares for brief associated with a preparatory function. as it does not specify how function dream content is recalled. 1 (2015) . and problem solving. Threat Simulation: Dream consciousness is specialized in There is some evidence for threat to the simulation of various threatening events to which our be associated with lucidity in dreams. No. It promotes coping logical healing or vice versa. about a trauma somehow contributes to psychological recovery from that trauma. Social Stimulation Function: Dreaming about the intentions Does not explain LD in addition to non- of others prepares us for social encounters when awake. cognitions. Dreams are an emotional burden. So practicing how to manage complex human social life interactions may have an important adaptive value. become a manifest dream. and that there is a strong connection between LD. Problem Psychological problem solving function has a creative and Some lucid dreamers use lucid dreams Solving & psychotherapeutic effect. Dreams prepare the individual been observed. and feelings occur in dreams. anxiety-triggered dreams become less frequent with more experience in LD. If this dream content cannot be modified appropriately the dream will be suppressed and cannot be transferred into the wake state. Evolutionary & Adaptive Function Theories Compatibility with Lucid Dreaming Psychoanalytic Freud: Latent dream content of the subconscious in order Do not have as substantial predictive Theories to protect the sleeper from disturbing sexual or aggres. Overview on the evolutionary and adaptive function theories of dreaming and their compatibility with LD. Psychological Dreaming maintains psychological balance and is neces. how they interact and is able to display appropriate and functional behavior in the how other persons can monitor and face of the emotional burden. There is also preliminary evidence that cess of the individual. whether or not evolved. Sentinel Dreams have a predictive and preparatory function for Triggers of lucid dreaming such as Function the situation in which the individual awakes. and recovery from there is no evidence that dreaming traumatic experiences. 38 International Journal of Dream Research Volume 8. Broader connections during dreaming help linking problems. behavior is influenced by REM sleep greatest if a negative dream was recalled. Jung: Dreams try to communicate with the dreamer via im- ages and symbols. Lucidity in dreams promotes psycho- Healing sary to adjust in current waking life. lucid dreaming. mood. creativity. Theories capabilities. Be- havior. Cannot explain why lucid dreaming signaling tional displays for the next wake episode. for fight and flight if information from the environment leads to that conclusion. Play Function: Dream experience resembles play behavior Does not explain LD in addition to non- in mammals. the emotional signals are evaluate external behavioral cues that honest and hard to fake. If the individual and dreaming. are modulated by previous REM sleep and dreaming.IJoDR Theories of dreaming and lucid dreaming Table 2. awakenings and immediate fight or flight reactions if danger although no direct evidence has yet is detected while awakening. makes all dreams potentially lucid which have a creative and problem solving function. psychological well-being. Simulation General: Dream experience is functionally constructed for Does not explain LD in addition to non- Functions simulating waking life experience. However. ancestors were exposed to and improves survival suc. lucid dreaming. for creative purposes and to solve Creativity dents. that have previously been neglected by the waking consciousness.

Pro- issues. e. Hall & Lind. tional interplay is crucial to the optimal functioning of both. Steadman. Analyzing the phenomenology of false awakenings. as also discussed by dreams. Likewise. Hollifield. activity in the requisite cortical structures must of certain cognitive techniques (see Stumbrys et al. (2011) found that false awakenings are consistent with Hob- and – probably more convincing – the continuity between son’s hypothesis of dream protoconsciousness. Wright. & Nordby. they that is enriched by abstract analysis and metacognitive com- dreamed about recreational activities. the subjective awareness including perception and emotion ties.5. that this state is not at first associated with awareness (Kihl- enon. 2001. Larson. This is reflected by the effectiveness be present.. a ‚protoself’ is established to take re- have the potential to clarify more about the possible func. Continuity Hypothesis ing cognition. & Symonds. very little of their two most time-consuming daytime activi. Patrick & Durndell. insight. Moreover. 1996. Instead. 1969. because in the incongruent condi. For attributes of secondary consciousness of consciously accessible memory linking lucid dreams and like self-reflection. based on their observation that frequent lu- cid dreamers to be significantly faster in the incongruent The continuity hypothesis (CH. necessary to specify the continuity hypothesis more fully 1971. 1987). the CH is not the most reliable expla. Hobson suggests that waking and & Hofmann. Foulkes (1982. time-consuming and lifelong process of the DLPFC during dreaming (Hartmann. 2004). 2002. Foulkes. Pivik. with dreams reflecting nothing more that the CH applies better to some dream features than oth- nor less than previous waking life experiences. ponents of consciousness. 2003) . 1 (2015) 39 . Sullivan. because it does not early in development.4. & Allan Hobson’s (2009b) theory of protoconsciousness sug- Rardin. sponsibility for what begin as entirely automatic acts. 2008. static than dynamic. Bell and Wilkinson (2010) proposed til age 7. 1983. 1972.g.other elements like negative emotions dreaming states in humans cooperate and that their func- and events are overrepresented (Domhoff & Schneider. 2004). Valli & Revonsuo. but that reflective consciousness exists in all dreams strom. it will be pothesis receives support from several studies (Bell & Hall. formance in wakefulness (Erlacher & Schredl. as our wake-state sense of conscious will (Libet. As Schredl and Hofmann (2003) pointed out. This hy. Buzzi fulness are subsequently transferred to dreams. 1999. Foulkes. as dream LD and wakefulness is reflected by the effect of practicing content feeds itself from innate schemes. is a building block for consciousness. ers. basis of subjective experiental memories. While many activities of to develop along with brain development. it can be assumed dream experiences. Domhoff . Spear. Gleason. reading and calculating are underrepresented and further develops and maintains higher order conscious- in our dreams – probably due to the cholinergic activation ness (Hobson. Hobson (2009b) proposes that it is only in the and can be measured on a continuum with ‘lucidity’ and course of childhood that we become able to integrate this ‘non-lucidity’ representing two ends of the spectrum within experience and become aware of it. Reconsidering these results. Bradley. in REM sleep in our daily lives such as highly focused cognitive processes utero and in early life as a state that preludes consciousness like writing. No. Blagrove. Foulkes. type of waking-life experience. rated into dreams than others. judgment or abstract thought to waking experience. condition of the Stroop task than occasional and non-lucid scribes a continuum between waking experiences and dreamers. trinsic activation of the forebrain during REM sleep arises nation for form and content of dreams. 1996) de. by age 8 a passive-observer role for International Journal of Dream Research Volume 8. enacted on the motor tasks within LD and their subsequent improved per. Hobson states that because in- dream events. Un- (reading). Similarly. In the waking state the brain has Such findings seem to contradict most important predic. 2000. (2012) be modulated appropriately as we wake up or dream lucidly. 50% of dream elements can be linked to waking experi. which is proposed ences of the previous wake state. firmed the earlier findings of a longitudinal study by Foulkes tion there is interference between the attentional demands (1982): Dreams were reported relatively seldom and dream of a relatively difficult task (color naming) and an easy one experience depends upon representational intelligence. Schredl & Piel. 2010). 2009b). & Pearl. from laboratory awakenings in REM sleep and cognitive the Stroop color naming task also involves a combination of skill tests of 80 participants from 5 to 8 years. Theories of dreaming and lucid dreaming IJoDR 3. It has been derived emotional involvement). Thus. the imagery reported by the children was more continuity in attentional ability between waking and dream. gests that waking and dreaming states cooperate and 1967). for a review). Protoconsciousness been found (Foulkes. access to information about external space and time. REM sleep has integrative functions and is the basis 1999) found that children between ages 5 and 15 dreamed on which the brain prepares for secondary consciousness. Taking into account In the context of LD. 2009). and Terry (1990) As in LD. 1967. waking and dreaming personality (Domhoff. They also presume that there is a relative continuity Domhoff (2001). Hall and to include factors (e.. but tion of dreaming-waking continuity and why some elements commanding our dreamed motor acts is as much an illusion of wake-state experiences are more likely to be incorpo. Strauch and Meier (1992) showed that more than toconsciousness. which show that habits developed in wake. Wegner. where there is an attentional skill of having studied the development of conscious mental processes metacognition about the dreamer’s state of consciousness and representations in children by analyzing dream reports at the same time as being engaged in the dream scenario. going to school and watching television. Schredl that constantly builds on. which modulate the incorporation from that hypothesis that there is continuity between the rate of waking-life experiences into dreams. The development of consciousness or other alterations of brain physiology like down-regulation is seen as a gradual. Although Schredl (1999) argued that direct effects of have a functional interplay that is necessary for the optimal incorporations are rather small and have methodological functioning of both and is seen as a lifelong process. 2005). 1970. These tion of the CH: That frequency and type of any real events external inputs are not available in sleep and must therefore are correlated with the frequency and type of subsequent be simulated in dreaming. a continuity of dream content with waking mentation of children in the laboratory has 3. Domhoff. Swanson.. La Berge and DeGracia (2000) that REM sleep provides a virtual model of the world and showed that lucidity in dreams is not a discrete phenom. Thus. They con- two levels of cognition.g. a primordial state of brain organization.

whether or not old as dreaming itself. waking and from REM sleep that can be explained by the Goodenough et al. Weingarden (1972) and Cohen (1972) demonstrated pretation techniques. 1 (2015) . Thus. & Berger (1987) the suppressed dream content in order to compare it with showed indirect incorporations (negative emotions) of stim. so the messages of dreams are difficult to under- lak (1975) found no increased negative emotions in dreams stand. the continuity hypothesis (Domhoff. Empirical tests ticipants before sleeping. the only wake state events seem plausible. If this dream content cannot be As protoconsciousness is seen as a functional interplay modified appropriately the dream will be suppressed and between dream and wake state. Psychoanalytic Theories very simple forms of narrative structure. with benefits over reptiles at the time him to invest in courtship and allocate resources to their when mammals evolved. since there is no way to access Cohen (1975) and Lauer. As REM sleep has been found to be unique to mammals It was proposed that some animal traits evolve because and birds. mood and emo- LD also derived as a biological function and whether it is as tional displays for the next wake episode. Zahavi-Ely.. 1997). Freud (1900) presented the idea that latent dream development is a lifelong process. Recalling of dream yoga (Norbu. different ness. because their ideas were based on small sam- in REM sleep state is rather weak (Voss et al. 1966). It has been proposed that general cognitive theory. Riemann. 2005. It states awareness. 1998). 2009) – lucid. Nor do they have a substantial predictive value for a pos- cognition about the dreamer’s state of consciousness at the sible evolutionary function of dreams and LD. the theory of protoconsciousness seems to be 4. 1969. 1998) to a con. Evolutionary and adaptive functions of dreams nomenology and dream function. Individuals who display costly and hard-to- proaches have been suggested to explain the function of fake signals are more likely to be selected by the opposite sleeping and dreaming..IJoDR Theories of dreaming and lucid dreaming their self was most common and dream activity evidenced 4. content of the subconscious is modulated in order to pro- tion continuing to develop to higher stages. but psychology but cannot be considered valid explanations for – as the reactivation of the DLPFC and other brain networks dreaming. tions and is necessary to prepare for such metacognitive The complementary hypothesis of dreaming was derived components of secondary consciousness as subjective from Jung’s compensatory function (Jacobi. Bradbury & Vehrencamp. cognition and feelings occur in dreams that when the REM sleep state ‘overlaps’ with components of have previously been neglected by the waking conscious- secondary consciousness in the wake state. (2009) showed dream content although the direct effect on dream content that LD has definable and measurable differences from is rather small (Cartwright. Koulak. Zahavi.. its structure and content. Dreams are seen as an emotional tradition in eastern culture. Zahavi. 1987). This suggests that lucidity in dreams may occur that behavior. 2012). If the sleeper ing experiences and dream experiences according to the were to become aware of his subconscious wishes. These findings em- phasize the hypothesis of a developing process of dreaming A number of dream theories have been proposed to explain skills in childhood that is associated with general cognitive dreaming. the recalled dreams. & Kling. to communicate with the dreaming person via images and Foulkes and Rechtschaffen (1964) and De Koninck and Kou. Witkin. reproduction. Reviewing the proposed functions sex because they improve their fitness. It One evolutionary theory is known as Costly Signaling Theo- incorporates other common structural dream theories such ry (CST. 1972) and was put forward by McNamara (2004) to understand dream phe- 4. ity occurs in such a way that without waking there is meta. With regard to LD it can be argued that inducing stress had an influence on dream content. 1998). siderable extent and is also capable of explaining LD in 1975. 1998. enabling tage (Snyder. Maccolini and Salzarulo (1983) reported that becoming aware that one is dreaming while dreaming significant incorporations of sentences they present to par. No. According to the protoconsciousness the dreamer in a compensatory function in order to become theory (Hobson. From the biological perspective the onset of even more difficult to get further support for this hypothesis. 1974). 1975. Maynard-Smith & Harper. On the other hand. ples collected unsystematically from only a few individuals. 1971). implying that dreaming in es until it can pass a ‘censorship instance’ and become a adulthood may continue to develop as well. 2003.2. as the CH and AIM models (Hobson et al. Borowitz. Bernick. spontaneous lucidity may arise from the actual impetus to As Valli and Revonsuo (2009) pointed out. not ending at an tect the sleeper from disturbing sexual or aggressive wish- abstract verbal level (Hunt. & Ely. De Koninck and Brunette way to access the true content of a dream is to use inter- (1991). cannot be transferred into the wake state. Lauer et al.. same time as the actual dream scenario unfolds. It is based on the terms of “normal” dreaming. Goodenough. Many studies have shown that movies presented to features of dream state and wake state are combined into participants the night before can manipulate the recalled a hybrid state of consciousness. Considering three interdependent processes of the AIM model (Hobson personality traits and states biasing dream recall makes it et al. Grafen 1990. a continuum between wak. In his psychoanalytic development. manifest recalled dream. Engel (1997) noted that LD has a long dream content is recalled. 1995). it is presumed to have some selective advan. 1996) and incorporation of anxiety they provoked would awaken them. Wangyal. Voss et al. more complete and have more meaning in life (Jung. The CST states that of dream raises the question whether the phenomenon of REM features influence dream content. concept of sexual selection theory (Trivers. 1992. Some evolutionary biological ap. & of this notion are difficult. such a negative dream puts the dreamer in a ‘handicapped’ 40 International Journal of Dream Research Volume 8. Thus. greatest if a negative dream was recalled. His idea was that the unconscious communicates to after aversive movies. In sum. with the quality of cogni. for example the Tibetan practice burden. Bliege Bird & Smith.1. 2009b) REM sleep has integrative func. Fagioli. that dreaming has a role as the ‘guardian of sleep’ and Cipolli. Costly signaling theory compatible with most of the findings in dream research. symbols.. the psychoanalyt- wake us up or to change a nightmare or bad dream into a ic theories of Freud and Jung were influential in personality more pleasant experience (Schädlich & Erlacher. Lund. they indicate that their possessor has good genes. might avert the initial impetus to wake up. Jung (1974) proposed that dreams try uli presented in the previous wake state.

stimuli like pressure. Schredl and Erlacher (2004) found broadly integrated into memory networks in order to neu- that lucid dreamers have thinner boundaries according to tralize them and quell emotional concern. Tactile learnable skill (LaBerge. If the individual is able the boundary concept of Hartmann (1989). & Hartnell. if the cues are in. that there is an evolutionary basis that higher incorporation rate. Nielsen. Gackenbach. Psychological Healing Theories (PHT) that external light cues applied during REM sleep can re- mind dreamers that they are dreaming.1992. Boyt. continuity of argue that lucid dreams can contribute to problemsolving sleep with pleasant dreams ensues. in particular REM sleep and dreaming. this had an advantage in the early sible evidence that the costly features of REM sleep and development of the human brain when traumatic experienc- the emotional burden of dreaming are directly observable. 2000. negative emotional memory traces in long-term memory LaBerge. 1991. LD has a problemsolving effect in therapy (Zadra & Pihl. creativity and problem solving. as the dreams of ancient and modern mammals In a group of lucid dreamers. LaBerge and Levitan (1995) found 4. These findings to display appropriate and functional behavior in the face highlight the role of REM sleep and the incorporation of evo- of the emotional burden carried into waking. Theories of dreaming and lucid dreaming IJoDR position (Valli & Revonsuo. as it does not provide a signal of 4. life. With regard to LD. water-jets and electro shocks (Dement LaBerge and DeGracia (2000) argue that lucidity in dreams & Wolpert. Steffen. psychological well-being and recovery from traumatic of the dreamlight appears to increase a subject’s probability experiences (Garfield. 1 (2015) 41 . Problem Solving and Creativity Function fitness. Thus. proposed by Snyder It can be claimed that lucidity in dreams is a possible out- (1966). 1986) and also triggers night. Moreover. The idea is that dreaming is necessary to adjust to more often in light cue nights compared to nights without stressors in current waking life. dreams what they believed to be light cues significantly 1993). 1991). physiological arousal is a lucidity trigger (LaBerge. Kramer. The second func- If there are indirectly observable features. exter. the emotional lutionarily important sensory input. 2012). & La- nal stimuli are often incorporated into dreams in such a way Berge. reliable cues that tion is the creative and problem-solving function of dreams. 1963) or key words associated tween lucidity and non-lucidity in all recalled dreams. representing situations of psychological imbalance can be mares (Schredl. 1980b). there is no plau. or salient stimuli like the is not a dichotomous variable. 1999). but rather a continuum be- dreamer’s name (Berger. the sound Pietrowsky. Barrett (1993) International Journal of Dream Research Volume 8. Furthermore. are highly correlated with REM sleep and dreaming have to Broader connections during dreaming help linking informa- be discovered and linked to being favored by other group tion in new ways that were useful to our ancestors in waking members that find these cues desirable.. more than a quarter used cannot be measured. 1958. Although external stimuli such as lucid dreams for creative purposes and to solve problems sounds. & Dement. It was shown that heightened cognition. 1995. states that REM sleep increases the level of brain come in line with these evolutionary functions. 2000). this theory. or how they interact. It has proved difficult to test advice to the dreamer. 1993). Subjects reported seeing in their logical balance (Cartwright. Snyder proposes that dreams and which seem to be related to LD. The psycho- activity and prepares for brief awakenings and immediate logical problem solving function has many similarities with fight or flight reactions if danger is detected while awaken. 2009). grove. Heilman. Levitan. 2007). which are discussed below ing (Valli & Revonsuo. as discussed by Hartmann (1996). have a predictive and preparatory function for the situation and that dream characters can provide plausible creative in which the animal awakes. Stumbrys and Daniels (2010) environment leads to that conclusion. Also. 1985. 1981) have a it seems reasonable. sleeping organism from threats. incorporation of presented stimuli into dream content while 1997). 2009). implying that dreaming was the earliest form of human creativity (Barret & McNamara. 2013). No.4. Another study reported that the sleeping brain and lead to increased activity in humans. With regard to the cre- prepare the animal for fight and flight if information from the ative problem solving function. smells and tactile experiences can be detected by (Schädlich & Erlacher. the CST cannot explain why LD evolved. Psychological Healing Theories. If not. Gruber. Therefore. and that most of the resulting lucid since the divergent dreaming process makes wider asso- dreams are due to the specific effect of light cues rather ciative memory connections than the convergent waking than general ‘placebo’ factors. This tory function.. Zink & that dreaming and sleeping are maintained (e. of having lucid dreams. & Vonderhaar. Hartmann. It promotes coping capabili- light cues. and its possible prepara- signals from this individual are honest and hard to fake. 1995. Dreams in REM sleep when dealing with tasks that are more creative than logical. es were presumably an everyday reality. with a psychotherapeutic effect. It is also seen as functional.g. These authors conclude that the sensory stimuli ties. (Valli & Revonsuo. The problem with the CST is its lack of concrete- ness. although no direct evidence support- mate or being preferred over others in cooperative alliances ing the SFT has yet been observed. This accords with the findings of Schredl (1995).3. and there is some evidence that LD is a of an alarm clock misinterpreted as church bells). Furthermore. who showed that persons with 4. The sentinel function theory (SFT). the neural networks of the brain: The first is a problem solv- ate external behavioral cues that are modulated by previous ing function. It does not specify how behavior is influenced by Hartmann (1998) proposed two evolutionary functions for REM sleep and dreaming. lucid dreamers are more creative (Bla- dreaming is rather indirect (Schredl. Sentinel function theory visual and verbal creative skills recalled more dreams. They suggest that triggers of lucid dream such ability makes her or him more likely to be favored by other as light cues or physiological arousal are associated with a group members. In the context of LD. with problems in waking life (Hoelscher et al. This puts emphasis on a sentinel makes all dreams potentially lucid and that there is a strong function of sleep in so far as such stimuli might preserve the connection between LD. Several authors assert that dreaming maintains psycho- corporated into a dream. nor does the capacity of dreaming to form new connections within it clarify how other group members can monitor and evalu.5. 2009). for traumatic incidents. as mentioned above. especially for selecting an individual as a preparatory function.

as rated by the dreamers (Valli & Revonsuo. specialized in the fer-Dudek. rassment or delight can also initiate lucidity (LaBerge & De- similarities between dreaming and play behavior. in a dream is a reaction that helps the subject to broad range of behaviors that have their origin outside play. Zadra & Pihl. or vice versa seems plausible. without actually facing such deadly threats in real life situ- LD has been associated with psychological growth (Green ations. not least because the adaptive functions of ing dream containing negative elements. SDB leads to physio- overlap with dream simulation functions. They argue that 42 International Journal of Dream Research Volume 8. & Shahar.IJoDR Theories of dreaming and lucid dreaming found that at least one third of dreams by college students some forms of mammalian play display rehearsals of hunt- who were trying to “incubate” a problem included at least ing behavior. based on them. LaBerge (1985) states that interdependent or independent recovery process can also there is an evolutionary basis for anxiety stimulating reflec- explain the transition from posttraumatic nightmares to nor. 1992).6. showed that nightmare frequency was moderately associ- ated with LD frequency. tive consciousness in dreams. Traumatic experience. mares trigger the onset of lucidity (Schredl & Erlacher. 2013). 2000). nightmares and insomnia. Although although recent findings imply that post-traumatic dreams generally lucidity in dreams is associated with higher posi- represent a failure in memory integration. either to resolve problems related to these On the other hand. If the integra. It can be argued that the on- evolutionary advantage by being useful in some way. Both Gracia. Other intense emotions such as embar- Revonsuo (2009) pointed out several similarities and dis. the TST and the genetic determi- traumatic event and later dreaming about it exists. Simulation Functions threat to be associated with lucidity in dreams. In a study by Schädlich and Erlacher (2012). 2009) simulation function (Revonsuo. 2009). La- the view that dream experience is functionally constructed Berge (1985) reports percentages of anxiety-triggered lu- for simulating waking life experience. or predator avoidance a partial solution to the problem. about negative and threatening events might have provid- ing empirical findings. 2007. has a mediating impact that playing has multiple functions. 2000). there are difficulties in explain. it does not seem appropriate to ex. deal with them. 1 (2015) . As Valli and Revonsuo (2009) pointed ed a slight advantage to our ancestors in maintaining and out. might have provided a selective advantage for our ances- Thus. Nielsen and Levin (2007. simplify and exaggerate a ative ones. In the ancestral environment a threat simulation sys- memory. It can be argued that night- exercise and the execution of motor programs that gener. not necessarily lead to psychological healing. 1997). Schredl and Erlacher (2004) mal dreams. (Nielsen & Levin. 81. Thus. 2009). there is nation of threat simulation in dreams remain controversial no evidence that dreaming about the trauma somehow con. mental health (Doll. the TST asserts that dream consciousness & McCreery. & Kahan. some of which seem to on the onset of lucidity in nightmares. is based on evidence that negative elements resent a failure of dream function in terms of a psychological such as negative emotions and aggression are prominent healing. a phenomenon that is associated with complementary functions in the rehearsal of behaviors and PTSD. It is also possible play are still not entirely clear either (Valli & Revonsuo. as part of the threat simulation function in so far as con- plain the function of dreaming as being similar to that of sciousness in dreams aids the management of a challeng- play behavior. Although it offers a plausible explanation for how dreaming ported by some evidence. have the ability to simulate reality in order to rehearse situ. this model suggests that sleep-specific mechanisms tors by practicing threat detection and avoidance skills underlie the neurobiology of posttraumatic stress disorder. Thus. There is also preliminary evidence that anxiety-triggered dreams become Theories of simulation functions of dreams are based on less frequent with more experience in LD. A general Claudatos. as it involves actual physical sometimes followed by waking. is stored into long-term episodic 2008). Valli and techniques applied. The threat simulation function (TST). especially in its visual aspects. success of its individual (Barret & McNamara. & Holzinger. In sum. and 68. tributes to psychological recovery. manipulate. 2011). 2009). probably due to the psychotherapeutic in mammals (Bulkeley. Wang. while a strong correlation between first experiencing a enhancing special skills. Therefore. Even though the PHT is sup. Wertheim. In posttraumatic nightmares the traumatic event tem may have evolved to recall life-threatening events from is repeated over and over until the trauma is integrated into long-term memory and construct various threat simulations memory networks. Humphrey. Both set of lucidity after feeling intense emotions. A threat simulation function was there- 1988. The “play” function cid dreams in year 1-3 after practicing LD of respectively suggests that dream experience resembles play behavior 36%. resilience to traumatic experiences (Sof. 1994). 1998) and meditation (LaBerge & Gackenbach. Levitan and Dement (1986) argued that height- currently available on the PHT is correlative at best. dreaming is perceptually more realistic emotions or to find an avoiding strategy. transform. and ened physiological arousal is a lucidity trigger. 2009). Norbu. 2009). No. there is some evidence for 4. 1992. proposed by Revon- according to which chronic posttraumatic nightmares rep. and therapeutic effects (Tholey. posttraumatic dreams will persist longer. The TST takes such selection pressures Thus. Play is motorically lucid dreamers. which can be related to a threat and by a group of judges. concern for the dreamer.8% reported changing a bad dream or are biologically determined behaviors that may provide an nightmare into a pleasant one. For example. 19% and 5%. which is consistent with findings fore selected because it improved survival and reproductive of practicing dream yoga (Engel. 2004) ate movement. the onset of lucidity in a negative dream is more realistic than dreaming. thus resolving the trauma. aggressive encounters.4% of a sample of lucid dreamers reported having fun in ations and interactions in a safe context. lucidity in dreams that promote psychological healing into account and there is a certain amount of support for it. 1997. In inexperienced than play. that sleep disordered breathing (SDB) like sleep apnea or These authors point out that dreaming and play might have hypopnea syndrome. 2004. especially neg- display. These threat simulation events in dreams tion process fails. Valli & yal. suggested an affective network dysfunction model (AND). 2000). as the dominant emotional characteristics of dream content (Domhoff & Schneider. simulation of various threatening events to which our ances- Gittler. evolved as an offline model of the world. dreaming does tive emotions and lower fear-related emotions (Thomas. suo (2000). tors were exposed. The empirical evidence LaBerge. both lucid dreams. Revonsuo.

Furthermore. Crane. Future research has to focus not so strongly as to suppress the pontolimbic systems sig. Although the social simulation hypothesis & Bosveld. Theories of dreaming and lucid dreaming IJoDR logical arousal during sleep. who suggested that LD can also be used Karpen (2007) argued that today’s home media ecology. No. 2009) and creativ- tion. Subrahmanyam. & Dopko. executive func- ping hypothesis that dreaming allows simulation of self. which increases the probability study by Erlacher et al. & Goolkasian. In the same way that a social species like man has a state-independent need as one can develop a higher or lower degree of mindfulness for a theory of mind. 2002. Alexander. Travis. Amplifiers of lucidity as postulated by the PHT. Brereton (2000) suggests in his social map. As Valli and Revonsuo (2009) phenomenon and only differs in the state of consciousness pointed out. visual-spatial processing. cid dream improved their performance in wakefulness. 2009. If this were not the case. ty in dreams and meditation practice. The idea here is that interacting with other mem- bers of the group had an important selection pressure in Hunt (1995) suggested that the quality of cognition contin- the ancestral environment. anticipate their intentions while awake. In addition. sum. multimodal speeding of processing. & Orme-Johnson. behavior and appearance. Kahn. working memory. Hunt. Kuruvilla. but rather a continuum (Moss. & location. Moffitt et al. it is also possible to have a higher or low- thinking and the ability to attribute feelings to others in wak. Meditation function. Another suggested dream function is a social simulation 5. the findings of Hobson et al. Gackenbach. on-off phenomenon. er degree of lucidity in dreams. a selective advantage 5. comparing the degree of lucidity in dreams and mind- ers during dreaming might have contributed to the ability to fulness in wakefulness seems plausible. connections were drawn between lucid dreams and medi- who most often evoke affection or joy in the dreamer (Kahn. learning easier. Finding a mate. Thus. As in the case of medi- sensory-motor skills and for improving the organization of tation. which seems to be not an ing consciousness continue into dreaming. focused attention is a prerequisite for serious game the phenomenal field with respect to the execution of sports play (Maynard. but as in the general population. Moore & Malinowski. the awareness of what others are in wakefulness. Threat simulation in dreams might be functional if dream induction. Second. it remains unclear whether the costs of practic. dreams often represent familiar human charac. it occurs. 1989. wakefulness and lucid dreaming in sleep reflects the same tionary function of dreams. of meditation and lucid dream frequency. reflection with a positive relationship between the frequency Indeed. some ters identified by their feelings. such as cognitive flexibility. recall of dreams and self- actions in dreams. of athletes had the impression that rehearsal within the lu- From a biological perspective. Erlacher & Schredl (2010) showed that LD enbach (2009b) argued that video game play may also be practice in sports has beneficial effects. Whether meditation in the hypothesis has some problems in explaining an evolu. In tiple social interactions with familiar characters. the majority of their sample and frequency of awakenings and fragmented REM sleep.2. & Hobson. on other beneficial effects with reliable techniques for lucid nals to it. Further studies should examine cost-benefit analysis ity (Gackenbach & Dopko. and exposure to appro- others could prepare us for social encounters when awake. Electronic Media for social simulation in dreams is questionable. like spatial thinking. 2012). and afforded an op. Zeidan. at least for our ancestors. 1989. it enhances psychological stability and preparedness in real life events. 1990). is consistent with the fact that dreams often represent mul. prayer. including awareness of Williams. Hunt & Ogilvie. there seems to be a strong connection between lucidi- ford the opportunity to practice social interaction in dreams. Gackenbach. enables practicing and learning for real-life social interac- 2009a. strong family and group cohesion thought to be important. 1988. & Greenfield. Gackenbach. David. nonverbal levels to the group had a robust adaptive value. 1992. 2010). 2010. (1988) suggested the parallels between portunity to rehearse the perceptual and emotional features meditation and lucid dreaming to be on a continuum of self- required for successful social mapping. LD frequen- International Journal of Dream Research Volume 8. Stickgold. To in order to gain the best access to the resources available achieve a higher level of consciousness. ing social interaction during wakefulness are higher than in dreaming. Mason. suo (2009) maintain that an awareness of the minds of oth. has still not been tested empirically. 2005). 1986). Gack- movements.1. 2000). John- their internal mental state. which af. Dreaming about the intentions of ues to develop to higher stages. and awareness of others. in agreement with a psychological healing effect 5. and enemies. tation and meditators have been found to have very high Pace-Schott & Hobson. In addition to traditional amplifiers for higher conscious- since there is a lack of studies on the nature of social inter- ness such as meditation. one cannot be sure that the interaction reflection. (2011). Thus. the (2000) imply that lucidity occurs if the dorsolateral prefrontal percentage of LD compared to all dreams was twice as high cortex (DLPFC) is reactivated during negative dreams. priate amplifiers is necessary in order to move to the next so practicing how to manage complex human social life higher level of consciousness (Alexander et al. video-game-play seems also to be related to with other dream characters is really a useful simulation that dream qualities such as dream bizarreness (Gackenbach. Kahn and Hobson (2005) argue son. building coalitions and avoiding conflicts would have been and the integration of self and affect with cognition are useful skills. Pace-Schott levels of lucidity in sleep (Gackenbach. Valli and Revon. Diamond. Gackenbach and by Tholey (1990). would have improved the chances of survival and health of Several studies show that mindfulness meditation training group members by organizing defenses against predators can increase cognitive abilities. 1 (2015) 43 . to consider if dream simulation is useful for human develop- Gackenbach (1991) proposed that a naturally occurring ment. Barnhofer. tioning and meta-awareness (Hargus. LD might be used for learning and refining is having effects on consciousness. for practicing mental movements. making sensory-motor which essentially offers continuous access to virtual worlds. In a subsequent one of the amplifiers for LD and consciousness. 1995).. “virtual” reality such as LD might bridge the gap to the expe- Another approach to a simulation function was presented rience of higher states of consciousness.

Schädlich. (2012) found markedly differ- ent regional activation patterns between LD and non-LD. & Hunt. is de- that none of these induction techniques had been shown activated during sleep. second case. the dreamer awakes from a dream and then returns to the Stickgold. (2007. Patrick. No. vibro-tactile (Paul. Rokes. Hobson. & Erlacher. In conclusion. & O’Connor. in which the dreamer acquires aware. lucid dream” (DILD). Schädlich. Voss et al. 2009) it has recently been suggested that LaBerge. lacher. 1989). 2009a. 2000. lucid drams could parallel activity during waking conscious- cally successful in several empirical studies to induce LD ness (Hobson et al. 1992). & Bosveld. 1990. reality-check training. 1983. sciousness” (Hobson. Snyder. 1992). Randolph. Fosse. First and most likely was the “dream-initiated brain activation pattern that underlies lucidity (Dresler et al. 2005). Wolpin. bination with MILD only. 2000) dream state with unbroken awareness. 1995. techniques for inducing lucid dreams. Malia. suggest that episodic memories are not reactivated during Schädlich. & Erlacher.g. Muzur. Ogilvie et al. they show abstracted images of key elements of the wak- tention. 1983b) and vestibular stimulation (Leslie & Ogil- report lucid dreams. and Schredl (2012) As especially dorsolateral prefrontal reactivation during showed that studies using light stimuli were methodologi. autosuggestion. 2009a). Reis. while a water stimulus ing play were controlled (Gackenbach. and Especially field independence. LaBerge et al. On the other hand. Dresler et al. Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Frequent video game players were more likely to (Hearne. Erlacher. band during REM sleep influences ongoing brain activity 2004.. Pace-Schott. LaBerge and Dole (1992) found two ways to start a suggested is the substrate of consciousness. line level after training was discontinued. Inducing lucidity with activation particularly increased in brain regions that For inducing LD we have to differentiate between cogni. dream re-entry supported by Maquet (2000) showing that the dorsolateral and other eclectic approaches to induce LD. showing miscellaneous results comparing the felt sense and found increased LD frequency after a LD workshop and of presence in games versus dreams (Gackenbach & Rosie. Tholey´s combined techniques. 1996) showed some success. and al. 1983b). In a retrospective. 2014. 2014). ing events. Thus. 1986) and gamers some studies to induce lucid dreams (Edelstein & LaBerge. but ciated with a metacognitive dimension to the lucid dream. Stumbrys et al. especially REM sleep. 1990). a takes a nap after a certain period of awakening (e.. 1989). 30–120 lack of susceptibility to motion sickness in lucid dreamers min) in the early morning hours.IJoDR Theories of dreaming and lucid dreaming cy as well as other potential indicators of consciousness methods such as acoustic stimuli (Kueny. Levitan. & Stickgold 2003. Galvin. Hobson tive techniques. For external (Buzsáki. although supported by animal studies suggesting that the hippo- some like MILD. Two studies (Fosse. 1992. normally involved in memory recall. Paul. because the lucid dream. in which the subject goes back to bed and spatial information processing (Sternberg & Preiss. Other techniques and Kuruvilla (2013) suggested that gaming may be asso. Schädlich. Such an absence of episodic memory replay is post-hypnotic suggestion. Heilman. (LaBerge et. instead induced lucid dreams (MILD). frequency of video game play (Gackenbach. and Schredl (2012) revised the methodological dreaming as dream construction occurs without activa- quality of studies using cognitive techniques like mnemonic tion of hippocampus-mediated episodic memories. Ferguson. 1988. 1985. reflection/reality testing. Levitan & 2002. the ability to use body refer. 2014)... 1990. and other techniques like (2009a) concluded that this may reflect the activation pattern the intake of specific substances. 2004) that have yet not been rep- for example focused problem solving. some stud. Erlacher. 1994. Roddenberry. Voss et al. (2014) recently found that associated with the ability of LD (Gackenbach. (2012) argue that mare and non-lucid dreamers (Spandafora. 1991. whereas other studies have found Recent studies on LD put LD in a position that „could move no relationship. 2012) was found not only in frontal cortical areas. distinguish humans from macaque monkeys. observer dreams. The Wake-up-Back-To-Bed method (WBTB. physiology to center stage in the emerging science of con- teristics and LD. 1998). been replicated or are ambiguous. 1985. & Sachau. Maguire. has been repeatedly duction techniques. Reis. 2010). 2006. clear results (LaBerge. the “wake initiated lucid dreams” (WILD).420 dream downplay the relationship between video game play and reports of a young male over a span of twenty-three years LD. like the application of Donepezil showed preliminary. 1998. Stumbrys. single- & Clothies. 1989). Neural mechanisms involved in lucid dreaming sociated with nonverbal dream structure variables such as spatial skills and lucidity. 2008) Levitan. Gackenbach was not successful at all (Hearne. & LaBerge. 1991) and of the frontoparietal region that Vincent et al. Levitan (1990. which is also to induce lucid dreams reliably and consistently. and dream control vie. They showed prefrontal cortex. and induces lucidity in dreams. LaBerge et development were examined especially as a function of the al. electro-tactile 2009b). intention. Levitan et tion and imagination (Gackenbach. Although WBTB was tested empirically in com- spatial-analytic skills for lucid dreamers compared to night. two recent studies case study Schredl (2013) analyzed a series of 8. stimuli Stumbrys. (Preston. Stepansky et al. More effort has ness and dream lucidity (Gackenbach. 6. ies support Gackenbach’s (2006) hypothesis that daytime exposure to virtual reality through electronic media is as. 7. & Hobson. and campus-to-cortex connection is blocked during REM sleep Tholey´s combined techniques look promising. but also in ness of being in a dream while fully involved in it.. Other variables that licated. WBTB is a method for facilitating lucidity on its own. Kuruvilla. with LD frequency returning to base- 2011) and no association between gaming.. Er- can be associated with video game play and LD are visuo. al. In the parietal and temporal brain structures. 1 (2015) . whereas electrical brain stimulation of prefrontal areas may be a way 44 International Journal of Dream Research Volume 8. 1996). improved spatial skills like spatial orienta. but the findings have not when dream recall frequency and motion disorientation dur. in. 1994. was used successfully in (Gackenbach. external stimuli. alpha feedback. 1981. dream bizarre. Marston. & Durndell. transcranial direct current stimulation in the lower gamma Boyt. may be successfully applied in combination with other in- ences to place oneself in a visual field. More effort is required to identify the exact from its marginal and tenuous place at the fringe of psycho- effects of extensive video game playing on dream charac. LaBerge & Levitan. 2006). to be made to investigate the long-term effects of different Mathewson. reflection/reality testing. & Darlington.

1982. variables like DRF. 2009a). but less than in full wak. tialled out. As Schredl attempt to answer the question whether LD triggers gamma. Transcranial direct current stimulation may spread within densely interconnected prefrontal areas (tDCS) with 1 mA was applied during REM sleep to manipu. that during sleep a generally greater intensity of activation Stumbrys. If laboratory awakenings and keeping a dream diary have become integrated and are able to receive coherent increase the DRF for some participants. The first concern in assessing methodological issues in lu- chrony and elevated frequency-specific activity in the gam. grammed to be all-or-none. 2004). 2001. normal development of emotionally guided decision making Erlacher et al. 70 and 100 Hz) and enings minimize biases due to inadequate memory. 1 (2015) 45 . as discussed earlier. 1970. Hold- gamma-band stimulation enhances neuronal synchroniza. Peterson & Benca. Shapiro.. Zink & Pietrowsky. and full intellectual abilities (Tholey & Utecht. 25.. which are more active in the less retrospective and based on subjective experiences wake state than in REM sleep (Hobson & Voss. but the ef. tory awakenings. sess lucid dreams (as for dreams in general) are more or ly in frontal and temporal areas. Wake-initiated lucid dreams 1997). lucid dream frequencies as well. 40. Based on subjective stein and Belicki (1995) argued that questionnaire items are ratings. they may increase input from a variety of sources. 2009. Erlacher and Schredl (2013) found preliminary in anterior paralimbic REM activation areas. 1995. Many studies have shown a strong corre- man. whereas waking requires frontal such as awareness of freedom of decision. Voss et al. ing a dream diary or laboratory awakenings can increase Since lower gamma-band power was also present in the dream recall frequency (DRF) significantly (Cohen. especial. By measuring the correlation between frontal and oc. Thus REM sleep. 1974. Bernstein & lations. 2006). 1959. 12. direct consequence of these induced gamma-band oscil. Cohen (1969) maintained that low dream recallers tend to Neider. dream diaries or laboratory awak- at various frequencies (2. including emotional infor. Theories of dreaming and lucid dreaming IJoDR to induce lucid dreams and alter the sense of presence and and evanescent state. (2009) found increased phase syn. waking state. sider for backdating dream elements. awareness without exceeding waking thresholds. Wolpin. Neider et al. may contribute to the lation between LD and DRF (Doll. while have argued that the ability to achieve lucidity during adoles. (2014) applied fronto. lucid dreamers. 1969. 2010). 1997. dreams. such as the evidence for the involvement of the dorsolateral prefrontal ventromedial prefrontal cortex (Nofzinger et al. Schredl. lucid dreams were most prominent during stimula. (2011) found an associa. 2006. 1987) to additional criteria posterior brain activation. (2014) hypothesized that lower Cohen & MacNeilage. 1978). which is linked to normal emo. 2010). 2002) and is disrupted in emotional disorders (Mell. 2012. tional memory (Brown et al. This puts lucidity in dreams in a posi. dolph & Clothier. and personality is reduced significantly once DRF is par- ferences in the experience of metaawareness. Voss et al. Belcher. memory of the activation as well. the intercorrelation between mans and altered conscious awareness during sleep as a questionnaire items and diary data is often high (Baekeland. The definition of lucidity in dreams is the fourth concern. and increased LD in labo. 2012.. (2002) pointed out.. cid dream research is that all the instruments used to as- ma frequency band around 40 Hz in lucid dreams. providing evidence that content analysis of dream diaries or dreams from labora- tACS causes frequency-specific cortical oscillations in hu. more valid measures for trait aspects of dream life than the tion at 25 (58%) and 40 Hz (77%). (2011) hypothesized immersion in the dream state (Noreika et al. especially in a sample of mation. Different underlying defini- ratory awakenings may thus lend support to the hypothesis tions of LD might explain differing prevalence rates of lucid that LD is usually “on the cusp of two states which are pro. The participants’ self-ratings indeed indicate an increased lucidity in dreams. Methodological concerns in lucid dream fect was not strong and was only found in frequent lucid research dreamers. cipital EEG patterns. Watson. No. 1972. (2009) demonstrated that Whether to call a dream “lucid” or not in the analysis of subjects have more EEG coherence in the lucid dream dream diary content depends on how lucidity in dreams is state than in non-lucid dreaming. 2003). 8. winner take all. there are methodological issues to con- band activity or vice versa. & Morgan (2011) increase their DRF as a result of focusing on dreams. Pittman. Hobson (2009a) concluded that dreaming results from dream while dreaming (LaBerge. Bern- under sham conditions in REM sleep. tion increased dream lucidity. Ran- during adolescence. In an that are difficult to control for incorrect recall. 1992. Wagner The third concern is to control the influence of mediator et al. Bone & Montgomery. en. be mediated by the activation of fast-spiking interneurons The second concern is that the measurement technique known to generate gamma oscillations in cortical networks can affect the results. & Steinschriber. Goodenough. (Petrides & Pandya. high recallers cannot increase their DRF owing to a ceiling cence may be related to the degree to which frontal systems effect. tion between these two states. Voss et al. 2002) to an extent sufficient to trigger late activation of the DLPFC in order to test if this stimula. Nevertheless. Moffitt et al. Crick & Koch. The likelihood of LD can only be increased by training in order to maintain this unstable International Journal of Dream Research Volume 8. Reed. 2011). defined.. 6. Gittler & Holzinger.. Several studies indicate that keep- (Brown et al. Marston. Cardin et al. Using EEG. Schredl tion between performance on the Iowa Gambling Task and and Erlacher (2004) found that DRF mediates between LD lucidity. Neider et al.. 2009. which suggests that a connection between LD and frequency and personality. 2006. Pace-Schott. Forselius. 2008. thus settting the stage for lucidity in dreams. Definitions vary from simply becoming aware in a ing. 1998).. Hu et al. uum from lucidity to non-lucidity. since the correlation between LD ventromedial prefrontal function is potentially relevant to dif. Unlike some items on temporal transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS) dream questionnaires. As LaBerge and DeGracia (2000) pointed out. 2013). absence of LD. with ties im- probable” (Hobson. cortex (DLPFC) in LD. lucidity and the Wake-up-Back-To-Bed method for increasing lucid in dreams is not a dichotomous variable but rather a contin- dream frequency (Erlacher. Voss et al. Gamma-band oscillations are normally assumed to Belicki. tion.

According to the continuity hypothesis of dream. which is consolidat- of conscious processing of memories while dreaming . LD a brain activation related to wakefulness. On the be argued that the adaptation functions like problem solving one hand. since the awareness of possible adjustments sleep. the theory of simulation functions. the awareness of such mecha- unwanted or unnecessary information from waking life. It asserts that LD occurs if the inte.. Second. 2012). Memory consolida- cope with these situations when awakened. the incorporation of (harmful) external signals into 46 International Journal of Dream Research Volume 8. which explains the different forms of consciousness simulation function (Revonsuo. which states that dreaming is a process to delete and psychological growth. cranial activation have been observed to differ between lu- ness. But on the oth. it appears that dreaming (and may fulfill this role in anxiety provoking dreams in which the protoconsciousness as an interplay between dreaming and censorship function does not fully work and which would waking) evolved because of three major selection pressures lead to awakening. However. LD nisms that may help to find these adjustments. creativity. which assume that dream- As far as the structural and biological processes of dream. memory information stored during waking (La Berge & De. cid and non-lucid dreaming. 2009b). with the inputs of may – as for the psychological healing theories – enhance this activation originating from the same sources as dur. First. the awareness of dreaming appropriate adaptive and creativity in dreams are evolutionary tools to prevent or reactions to dangerous situations may help the sleeper to alleviate stress. with all the promis- lytic theories. dream- dreaming. as Hartmann’s (1998) theory. play function). (ii) origin waking life experience with the aim of finding new or better of input to the activated area and (iii) the mode of activa. if they work adequately. chophysiological processes are underlying lucid dreaming able and measurable difference between LD. the psychological healing pable of explaining normal dreaming. In the context of reverse learning theories. 2013. Figure 1). that LD can be induced in the future. Based on these Freud’s theory of the dream as the guardian of sleep. The same holds for consciousness. 2012). Thus. 2000). waking and (Dresler et al. it may be assumed that in terms of ing effects of this mode of consciousness. It can function theory of dreams seems to be controversial. For example Erlacher et al. who reported having lucid terplay between the dream and wake states. (2011) showed supposed to develop early in ontogeny and to reflect an in. Like. parable to playing. the gogic state. tion during REM sleep was shown to induce lucidity (Stum- With regard to the evolutionary and adaptive functions brys et al. learning. LD can hardly be explained by the psychoana. LD in terms of the sentinel (psychological healing. and integration nation for LD during evolution. this model is nothing to these situations in dreams may help to transfer them to more than a description of LD in terms of neurophysiological consciousness and thus to real life. and threat simulation function). a state enhanced by LD. means that LD can be seen as an adaptive mechanism to Gracia. and thus may be seen as an interplay between stored memory nodes and thus aid awareness of between dreaming and waking. 2010). The ed during REM sleep (Plihal & Born. LD thus may be the result of easily accessible learn new or complex sensory-motor sequences. dreaming may help to adjust to stressful life events theory. LD findings and current theories. in with such events in a dream may help to transfer these solu- which this deletion process is under the partial control of tions to consciousness and waking life.. Since none of the theories outlined is fully ca. proven. resilience. In terms of Hartmann’s theory. tion and integration in sleep is crucial for the ability to solve er hand. Accord- memory during waking and dreaming with the impression ingly. This simulation function is com- tion of aminergic and cholinergic neuronal activity) can ac. According to the theory of simulation functions. indicating that different psy- physiological findings. No. Likewise. patterns of wake state are combined into a hybrid state of conscious. ing helps to adjust to current waking life stressors. 1997). the random activation theories are not vide a convincing model of LD: Since. strictly speaking.IJoDR Theories of dreaming and lucid dreaming 9. the adjusting effect of dreaming to cope with threatening ing dreaming and a mode of activation comparable to REM situations. and coping can be regarded as a specific form of this mechanism. LD differs in that it is associated with the knowl. comparable to the hypna. used this dream state to practice sport skills and that best explains LD. none can explain LD. The later results indicate of dreams. adaptation (problem solving.. thus to calm the sleeper and keep him asleep. Discussion lucid dreams may prevent awakening and an adequate fight or flight reaction on the part of the sleeper. LD thus is characterized by sorship. 2014). Voss et al. procedural learning and memory. lucidity reflects the ability of a person to easily access mental movements and facilitate sensory-motor learning. 1 (2015) . 2000). is the theory dreams. differ. and the theory of simulation functions. according to these suitable for explaining LD. that that LD practice in sports has beneficial effects (Erlach- grative function of REM sleep does not fully operate and er & Schredl. solutions for real problems. sumption of Tholey (1990) that LD can be used to practice ing. the costly signaling theory does not provide an expla. psychological healing theories. theories. can pro- ing are concerned. in particular the threat 2002). This assumption is also supported by recent neuro. ing should help to establish new associative connections edge of dreaming. the as- correlates. so that lucidity may signal that it is a that are closely interrelated: preparedness (sentinel function dream. wise. are more suited to explain the function of dreaming ent from waking consciousness but without awareness of and lucid dreaming. such of dreaming. The present review served to present an overview of how The group of theories which suppose an adaptive func- LD might be explained on the basis of a number of theories tion of dreaming with respect to problem solving. However. In a similar vein. in which an experimental trial of possible commodate LD as one of the several patterns of possible coping strategies can be applied without appraisal or cen- states according to this model. while not While dreaming is a specific form of consciousness. The AIM model (Hobson & Pace-Schott. which assumes that (and thus also of dreaming) on the basis of the differential dream experience is taken by the individual for simulating activation on three dimensions ((i) brain activation. different features of dream state and from recent neurophysiological research. transcranial electrical stimula- REM sleep (Dresler et al. these modes of problem solving and creativity. social simulation. that 9% of an athlete sample. which suggest that there is a defin. overlaps with components of secondary consciousness in New and promising insight into the nature of LD comes the wake state. should also be concept of “protoconsciousness” (Hobson.

No. where external sensory input is missing. International Journal of Dream Research Volume 8. primary consciousness is built predominantly extrinsically by external sensory input. Figure 2. primary consciousness is generated intrinsically by intrinsic perception (activation and synthesis of stored memories). In lucid dreams there is secondary consciousness like in the wake state but also intrinsic perception like in dream state. Schematic presentation of the supposed evolutionary selection pressures on the development of different forms of consciousness and different subsequent forms of dream and wake states. play function). creativity. Theories of dreaming and lucid dreaming IJoDR Figure 1. Illustration of the closely interrelated processes that affected the development of dreaming by evolutionary selection pressures: preparedness (sentinel function and threat simulation function). and integration (psychological healing. 1 (2015) 47 . learning). Protoconsciousness can be seen as a functional interplay between sleep and wake and precedes primary consciousness. social simulation. In the wake state. In the dream state. resilience. adaptation (problem solving.

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