The (gamma) power to control our dreams
Jessica D Payne, University of Notre Dame
Nature Neuroscience, vol. 17, No. 6, June 2014
Summary and review of the above paper
Voss et al (2014) demonstrate that lucid dreaming can be initiated by stimulating the brain at the gamma frequency, which is associated with conscious processing. Lucid dreams are thought to occur only during rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep, in contrast to ordinary dreams, which occur mostly, but not exclusively, during REM sleep.
Three features characterise lucid dreaming, knowledge that one is dreaming, an ability to control the development of the dream, and a tendency to see the dream development from a third-person perspective. There has also been a debate as to whether gamma activity triggered lucid dreaming, or vice versa.
Vos et al stimulated the brain in order to study the influence of the gamma frequency, using a relatively new method known as transcranial alternative current stimulation (tACS). They showed that lucid dreams were most apparent at the gamma frequency of around 40 Hz. Moreover, stimulation at 25 Hz, at the bottom end of the gamma band, brought the next strongest response in terms of lucid dreaming. This form of dreaming was not observed at frequencies either below or above the gamma range. The researchers conclusion was that the ability to dream lucidly, or to be consciously aware during REM dreams, was specifically related to gamma activity.
In a rather similar study, Marshall et al (2006) showed that boosting slow (1 Hz) oscillatory activity during non-REM sleep could improve sleep-related memory consolidation.
Voss, R. et al – Nature Neuroscience, 17, pp. 810-12, (2014)