Dreaming has long been an intriguing state, both from a neuroscientific and psychological perspective. But what are the techniques used by researchers to better understand this mysterious state?
Dreams are defined as “psychic productions occurring during sleep and which can be partially memorized”. A small part of the population can be qualified as lucid dreamers, meaning that they are conscious of dreaming and can sometimes influence the scenario of their dream. Most of the research on this subject is carried out on narcoleptic patients, because it turns out that the frequency of lucid dreams in this population is much higher than in the general population. This discovery has opened a window on dreams…
For example, studies have been carried out in narcoleptic patients with the aim of teaching the patient a sequence of eye movements so that he can reproduce it in his sleep. The recording of sleep includes a measurement of these eye movements, which constitutes a way for the dreamer to transmit information to the researchers, while being asleep. This method can be useful, for example, to study when a dream is reported and what stage of sleep the patient is in.
This way of studying dreams offers a fantastic opportunity to better understand why we dream, what neural circuits are involved, but also how to treat nightmares.