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Lucid dreaming frequency in relationship to vestibular sensitivity as measured by caloric stimulation

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lucid dreaming, vertigo, nystagmographic responsiveness, vestibular system, dysrhythmia, directional preponderance, canal paresis, sleeping, body spin, REM bursts

Abstract (summary)

Twenty-four males and 24 females with no history of vestibular dysfunction but who differed in their reported frequency of lucid dreaming (being aware of dreaming while the dream is in progress), underwent bithermal caloric irrigation to determine their electro nystagmographic (ENG) responsiveness and their reported vertigo, both of which are measures of the functional integrity of the vestibular system. Evidence of a positive association between lucid dreaming frequency and ENG responsiveness was found for two graphic measures of nystagmus, amplitude per beat and speed in the slow phase, and for three other measures which imply decreased vestibular sensitivity, dysrhythmia, directional preponderance, and canal paresis. These results signify that frequent lucid dreamers are more responsive to caloric irrigation than are persons who never dream lucidly. Consonant differences between dreamer types were also found for the latency and duration of self-reported vertigo. Based on these findings and others in which lucidity frequency has been related to experiential and behavioral differences in equilabratory functioning, it is proposed that frequent lucid dreamers represent a subset of people whose vestibular system is subject to intense activation during sleep and whose dream mentation reflects this activation. It is conjectured that studies of vestibular physiology may provide a promising path for understanding the psychophysiology of sleep, the dream process, and self-awareness.

Publication Information

Gackenbach, J. I., Snyder, T. J., Rokes, L., & Sachau, D., (1986). Lucid dreaming frequency in relationship to vestibular sensitivity as measured by caloric stimulation. In R. Haskel (Ed.) Cognition and Dream Research: The Journal of Mind and Behavior (special issue), 7(2&3), 277-298.



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