Those of you who have seen the movie Inception will be familiar with the concept of “lucid dreaming,” whereby the dreamer realizes they are dreaming. Now, a new study by the University of Lincoln in the UK suggests that lucid dreamers are likely to have better problem-solving skills in reality.
The research team, led by Dr. Patrick Bourke, senior lecturer at the School of Psychology at Lincoln, recently published their findings in Dreaming – a journal of the American Psychological Association.
According to Dr. Bourke, theory holds that some people who engage in lucid dreaming are able to do so because they have a higher level of insight.
“It is believed that for dreamers to become lucid while asleep, they must see past the overwhelming reality of their dream state, and recognize that they are dreaming,” says Dr. Bourke.
In other words, they pick up on inconsistencies in their dream that would not make sense if they were awake.
In their study, the team suggests that this ability could also ring true in reality; lucid dreamers may possess cognitive intelligence that makes them better at problem-solving in the real world.
To reach their findings, Dr. Bourke and colleagues assessed 68 participants between the ages of 18 and 25.
Some participants had never experienced lucid dreaming, some experienced it occasionally, while others were frequent lucid dreamers.
All participants were asked to take part in a problem-solving experiment designed to test their insight. Subjects were presented with 30 “problems,” each of which consisted of three words. The participants then had to identify one word that would solve the problem. For example; for the words “sand,” “mile” and “age,” the word “stone” would solve the problem.
Results of the study revealed frequent lucid dreamers solved 25% more of the problems than those who never experienced lucid dreaming.
Commenting on their findings, the researchers say:
“Results show that frequent lucid dreamers solve significantly more insight problems overall than non-lucid dreamers.
This suggests that the insight experienced during the dream state may relate to the same underlying cognition needed for insight in the waking state.”
Earlier this year, Medical News Today reported on a study by neuroscientists in France, which gave a clue as to why some people remember their dreams more than others.
The study revealed that people who remember their dreams almost every day – deemed “high dream recallers” – have greater activity in the temporo-parietal junction and the medical prefrontal cortex of the brain, both when asleep and awake.