Metacognitive reflections on one’s current state of mind are largely absent during dreaming. Lucid dreaming as the exception to this rule is a rare phenomenon; however, its occurrence can be facilitated through cognitive training. A central idea of respective training strategies is to regularly question one’s phenomenal experience: is the currently experienced world real , or just a dream? Here, we tested if such lucid dreaming training can be enhanced with dream-like virtual reality (VR): over the course of four weeks, volunteers underwent lucid dreaming training in VR scenarios comprising dream-like elements, classical lucid dreaming training or no training. We found that VR-assisted training led to significantly stronger increases in lucid dreaming compared to the no-training condition. Eye signal-verified lucid dreams during polysomnography supported behavioural results. We discuss the potential mechanisms underlying these findings, in particular the role of synthetic dream-like experiences, incorporation of VR content in dream imagery serving as memory cues, and extended dissociative effects of VR session on subsequent experiences that might amplify lucid dreaming training during wakefulness.
This article is part of the theme issue ‘Offline perception: voluntary and spontaneous perceptual experiences without matching external stimulation’.
Interesting study. I think I will try to adapt some of the protocol they developed using the Oculus Quest VR headset. The VR activities will not be dissimilar, though cognitive dissonance was deliberately built into the study’s programs to simulate a nocturnal environment. If anyone else is using VR, this is an interesting way to try to increase lucid dreaming, particularly in such a stay-at-home environment for many of us.
I got an Oculus Quest 2 right out of the gate; it is a tremendous improvement over my original Oculus Quest. I subsequently got a Q2 for my wife – she loves it! – and will shortly be giving my old Quest to my stepson. Meanwhile a couple we are close friends with both got Quest 2’s. We’ve been able to go fishing together in VR! A great way to hang out. We’ve also been using Wander to travel around the Earth together. It’s a really cool way to show friends places that have been significant to you.
Otherwise, still using Tripp almost every day as part of my meditation practice; also frequently playing rhythm games like Synth Riders and Beat Saber for flow and exercise; In Death: Unchained; some Myst lately; various other things from time to time.
I also bought the Quest 2 but didn’t find the difference to be that great for all the things I do, which is not as much as you. The headset is definitely more comfortable and the images somewhat sharper, but the sound seemed to be not as good during the limited time I used it. I really like the upgrades to Tripp. Do you meditate as you’re doing an extended “Calm?” I like some of the AltspaceVR offerings too.
Barry, I’m typically doing one focus session, and one short calm session per day on Tripp; sometimes I do other things. I also meditate without Tripp. I find the visuals on Quest 2 much better, interesting that you only find them “somewhat sharper.” For sound, as with the original Quest I much prefer to use headphones, though I find the in-built sound adequate.
If you want to hang out in AltSpaceVR or whatever sometime, feel free to friend me: my username in the Zuckerborg Continuum, Oculus Realm is Arthurji and my account is tied to Arthur.V.Gillard@gmail.com
I don’t wear glasses with the Quest, so I have 20-40 vision after cataract surgery so they appear almost the same. The original Quest has been updated for its pixel display and I find it better than before, so that may be a contributing factor as well. We are in the process of packing up/moving to a new home in January and I am not using VR much till we get the new home with 3x the space, so I will be doing more with Quest and we can touch base on it then.
I don’t wear glasses with my Quest, but I got some prescription lenses for my Quest from WidmoVR – they are wonderful, they just snap on to the Quest lenses and then everything looks as clear as when I’m wearing glasses. It has vastly improved my experience of VR.
At first, nothing seemed amiss in the Spinoza Cafe. The virtual cafeteria, designed by Dutch scientists, was replete with fluorescent lights, cheap gray carpet, and vending machines.13 university students, equipped with virtual reality goggles, entered the cafe. Soon after, though, they faced a series of increasingly bizarre experiences: The clocks began running backwards, patrons turned their heads to stare, gravity failed. The students, who were participants in a research study, were instructed to ask themselves a question again and again: “Am I dreaming?”
Scientists designed the simulation as practice for lucid dreaming—a state in which the dreamer recognizes that they are actually asleep. They hypothesized that once the students found themselves inside a real dream, perhaps as bizarre and disjointed as the Spinoza Cafe, they’d remember they were sleeping—and open a door to a different, rare kind of consciousness…