Have you ever had a lucid dream? These are bizarre dreams during which the person dreaming is aware. I’ve had a few, and I’ve written about them before.
Now, researchers believe they’ve found a neural connection between having lucid dreams and being self-reflective while awake. The study, titled “Metacognitive Mechanisms Underlying Lucid Dreaming,” examines at least one area in lucid dreamers’ brains that may be more developed than in the brains of those who don’t lucid dream.
“…the anterior prefrontal cortex, i.e., the brain area controlling conscious cognitive processes and playing an important role in the capability of self-reflection, is larger in lucid dreamers. “
The study involved a questionnaire filled out by participants, which asked them about their ability to lucid dream. The participants, separated by their reported ability, were then given MRI scans while performing “metacognitive tests.”
Ultimately, researchers found a connection between the ability to lucid dream and the area of the brain responsible for “metacognitive function,” or self-reflection. These “shared neural systems” reveal a possible link between the two activities.
According to the Max Planck Society, the researchers will now explore if these abilities can be trained, and if lucid dreaming can itself improve metacognitive abilities, or perhaps vice versa.