Efficacy of the combination of cognitive training and acoustic stimulation in eliciting lucid dreams during undisturbed sleep - a pilot study using polysomnography, dream reports and questionnaires

  • Gulshan Kumar (Author)
    Department of Neurophysiology, National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS).
    PhD Scholar
  • Arun Sasidharan (Author)
    Axxonet Brain Research Laboratory (ABRL), Axxonet System Technologies Pvt Ltd. Bengaluru, India.

    Senior Research Officer & Research Program Manager,

    Axxonet Brain Research Laboratory (ABRL)

  • Ajay Kumar Nair (Author)
  • Bindu M. Kutty (Author)
    Department of Neurophysiology, National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS), Bengaluru.
    Professor and Head of the Department of Neurophysiology

Identifiers (Article)


Lucid dreaming is a unique state between dreaming sleep and waking, wherein one is aware of being in dream and able to control dream contents. The present study was aimed as a proof-of-concept to a previously proposed idea that combining a cognitive training protocol with auditory cue during sleep could cause effective lucid dreaming induction even among healthy participants who had no history of lucid dreaming.

11 healthy male participants underwent baseline polysomnography (PSG). Participants were then divided into two groups: Lucid dream induction group (n=6, age=29±3.16yrs (mean±SD)) practiced cognitive training (Tholey-combined) for three months, whereasControl group (n=5, age=25±0.83yrs) did not have such training. All were trained to move their eyes (left-right 3 times continuously) during lucid dreaming. Following three months, whole night PSG was conducted on both groups, during which participants were presented with acoustic stimuli during REM sleep state to facilitate lucid dreaming. Unlike control group, 4 participants out of 6from lucid dream induction group reported lucid dreams during training period and 5 participants reported lucid during the second PSG done after three months with enhanced gamma power in fronto-central region (indicating hyperfrontality during lucid dreams). The participants also reported various aspects of subjective experience associated with lucid dreams.

The study demonstrated the effectiveness of both cognitive training and auditory cues towards lucid dreaming induction in naïve participants. A proper understanding of brain activity during lucid dreaming would help us understand the brain activities that provide more insight into the significance of lucid dream induction for the normal as well mentally ill.


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National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS)
Lucid dreaming induction; Tholey's technique; Polysomnography