Playing video games before bedtime may give people an unusual level of awareness and control in their dreams, LiveScience has learned.
That ability to shape the alternate reality of dream worlds might not match mind-bending Hollywood films such as “The Matrix,” but it could provide an edge when fighting nightmares or even mental trauma.
Dreams and video games both represent alternate realities, according to Jayne Gackenbach, a psychologist at Grant MacEwan University in Canada. But she pointed out that dreams arise biologically from the human mind, while video games are technologically driven by computers and gaming consoles.
“If you’re spending hours a day in a virtual reality, if nothing else it’s practice,” said Jayne Gackenbach, a psychologist at Grant MacEwan University in Canada. “Gamers are used to controlling their game environments, so that can translate into dreams.”
Gackenbach first became interested in video games in the 1990s, when she watched her son repeatedly kiss a new Nintendo gaming console on the way home from a Toys “R” Us. She had previously focused on studying lucid dreams, in which people have awareness of being in a dream.
The last decade of game-related research has since yielded several surprises, although the findings represent suggestive associations rather than definitive proof, Gackenbach cautioned. She is scheduled to discuss her work as a featured speaker at the Sixth Annual Games for Health Conference in Boston this week.
Jayne is great. I’ve been a fan since I read Conscious Mind, Sleeping Brain. (Plenum Publishers (1988). Ed. with Dr. Stephen LaBerge.)
LaBerge is the person who proved to the scientific community that lucid dreams exist. He did this by planning with lucid dreamers that once they became aware they were dreaming, they would signal with their eyes. Eye movements can be recorded as can brain waves. By getting simultaneous brain waves along with specific planned eye signals (such as left, forward, left, forward, up, forward, up, forward, down, forward, down, forward), LaBerge showed that lucid dreamers were aware inside of their dreams and could remember and carry out specific experiments. When you are dreaming, you send out signals to your body when you attempt to move, but quickly afterward, you send a suppression signal. This keeps you from moving while dreaming, but you can still read the signals that are sent to the body with certain instruments. I believe another thing LaBerge did, just to show that the eye signals were not chance, is to plan to tap out his name in Morse code while dreaming. As planned, did this while brain waves showed he was in a dream state. This is what got me excited about lucid dreams. Communication with the outside world is possible.