If we can control our dreams, what else can we control? - Cog Blog by Gregg Byrne

         Metacognition is a broad topic in cognitive psychology.  It can be defined as ones knowledge and beliefs about their own cognitive processes.  Thinking about how it can relate to current events or a cultural phenomenon in our daily lives is exciting to me.  When I started to do some background research on metacognition I came across some interesting articles.  An articles posted in Science Daily in January 2015 titled, “Lucid dreams and metacognition: Awareness of thinking; awareness of dreaming” really stood out to me.  I had heard about lucid dreams in high school.  A kid on my swim team claimed he knew how to lucid dream, and had multiple lucid dreams a year.  A lucid dream has many confusing and ill-defined boundaries and descriptions.  A lucid dream is defined as a dream state in which one is conscious enough to recognize that one is in the dream state and which stays in one’s memory.  In simpler words lucid dreaming is when someone is dreaming and is aware that they are dreaming and can remember the whole dream.

            After hearing people talk about it a couple years ago, I began to become interested in seeing if it was an actual thing or if people just lied about it; I even read short articles online about what our dreams may mean.  What I found was impressive.  In the article stated above, researchers in Germany found that there are some biological and cognitive differences in people who can and cannot lucid dream.  Their research states “Accordingly, the anterior prefrontal cortex, i.e., the brain area controlling conscious cognitive processes and playing an important role in the capability of self-reflection, is larger in lucid dreamers.This theory is supported by brain images taken when test persons were solving metacognitive tests while being awake. Those images show that the brain activity in the prefrontal cortex was higher in lucid dreamers.”  I believe this is an extremely relevant phenomenon in our society because dream studies are becoming more popular and informative.

            Once I started to realize how similar these topics actually are I began to question why more studies like this haven’t happened.  I tried to find as much research connecting these two topics but only came up with a couple results, all happening within the past year or so.  I believe the connection between metacognition and lucid dreaming is relevant to our society for many reasons.  One reason is that it can simply help us understand metacognition better.  If you can train yourself to have a lucid dream, and realize that you are dreaming and control that, then maybe it can give us more insight into how people know and remember certain things better than others.  An example of this would be the chart we reviewed in class.  It states how there is some stuff we know we know, there is stuff we know we do not know, and stuff you think you don’t know but know.  Normal dreams would fall under stuff you think you know, but you do not.  You know you had a dream and maybe little information, but usually not the whole story.  But, for lucid dreams, you know you know exactly what happened the whole time and you know it wasn’t reality.  Another, is that it can help understand how influencial cue’s are.  To learn how to become a lucid dreamer, one must often teach themselves by making cues and practicing them all day.  Examples of some cues practiced by lucid dreamers are pinching themselves, studying their palms, and telling themselves throughout the day “this is a dream, not reality.”  They do this so that when they are dreaming that can preform the cues to then realize that they are in fact dreaming and not in reality.  Thus, this can help show us how valid cue utilization is.

            Lucid dreaming is incredibly unique and the fact that only small amount of people are naturally able to do them is amazing.  Teaching ourselves how to preform unique tasks like this can go a long way for research not only in cognition, but also across all of the sciences.