Dream Engineering - interesting article + NC guest recommendation

This article by Michelle Carr is very interesting: Nightmares becalmed: I’m a dream engineer. Through touch, scent and sound, we help people rescript the dramas of their sleeping lives

To influence dreams, dream engineers need to understand the processes that shape dream content. For a long while, a conventional view was that dreaming is a simulation of waking life generated purely by brain activity. However, evidence is mounting that the rest of the body also contributes to dream generation, which has huge implications for dream engineers seeking ways to shape dreams.

For instance, consider a recent study of lucid dreamers by the neurologist Isabelle Arnulf and her team at the Pierre and Marie Curie University in Paris. Arnulf and her colleagues asked their lucid dreamers to hold their breath within their dream, and found that, as they did so, there was actually a cessation of airflow in the real sleeping body, as measured by a sensor placed in the nostrils. This provides evidence that, at least in lucid dreamers, the physical body is manifesting dream content in real time. There’s also a correspondence between the body and more emotional dream content. Another of Arnulf’s recent studies suggests that a person’s expressions during sleep, such as whether they are smiling or laughing, correspond to the emotional content of their dreams…

Newer approaches to dream engineering go even further than lucid dreaming therapy in attempting to interact with dreams as they occur. They exploit the fact that the dreaming mind can be thought of as being in a circuitry with the physical body during sleep. This means that we can use the physical body as a permeable barrier to interface with the dreaming mind, for example by applying sensory stimulation to influence subjective experience during sleep…

Another dream-engineering approach that uses spoken prompts to direct dreams is Dormio, a glove-like wearable device that’s designed to detect sleep onset via sensors that measure muscle flexion, heart rate and electrical dermal activity. When it detects sleep onset, Dormio gives an auditory prompt to influence what you dream about in the hypnagogic state – the initial state between wakefulness and sleep-onset, during which people are particularly receptive to suggestion.

In a recent study showing how it might be possible to exploit the hypnagogic state for dream engineering, Adam Haar Horowitz and his colleagues at MIT programmed Dormio to prompt dreamers to ‘think of a tree’ just after they drifted off. Each time the researchers did this, they woke their volunteers and asked them to describe their dream, to see if the prompt had worked. The researchers saw that, over time, with each successive dream incubation, the hypnagogic images started to become more creative and dreamlike:

Awakening 1: Trees, many different kinds, pines, oaks.
Awakening 3: A tree from my childhood, from my backyard. It never asked for anything.
Awakening 5: I’m in the desert, there is a shaman, sitting under the tree with me, he tells me to go to South America…

Hey @AndyK, I would love to hear a conversation between Michelle Carr and @Andrew about dream engineering, in particular how it might be used in conjunction with dream yoga techniques.

Here is a link to Michelle Carr’s website (contains contact information)

And a link to her Twitter account (she and I are mutuals)

NOTE: in another Night Club thread – A Bunch of Lucid / “Dream Engineering” papers available – I linked to a Twitter thread by Carr in which she lists a bunch of papers on dream engineering.



UPDATE: In a Twitter exchange Michelle Carr told me “We talk about overlaps between VR and dream engineering in this paper, and one of the last sections speculates on VR/BCI/EMG combinations for body schema adaptation within dreaming”

“this paper” is Flying dreams stimulated by an immersive virtual reality task, which is available in its entirety at that link; this is the abstract:

We explore the application of a wide range of sensory stimulation technologies to the area of sleep and dream engineering. We begin by emphasizing the causal role of the body in dream generation, and describe a circuitry between the sleeping body and the dreaming mind. We suggest that nearly any sensory stimuli has potential for modulating experience in sleep. Considering other areas that might afford tools for engineering sensory content in simulated worlds, we turn to Virtual Reality (VR). We outline a collection of relevant VR technologies, including devices engineered to stimulate haptic, temperature, vestibular, olfactory, and auditory sensations. We believe these technologies, which have been developed for high mobility and low cost, can be translated to the field of dream engineering. We close by discussing possible future directions in this field and the ethics of a world in which targeted dream direction and sleep manipulation are feasible.



Ordered my inserts for the Rift. Looking forward to the change.

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