You have learned that the human brain is capable of amazing feats of calculation, innovation, and imagination. It is even capable of fooling its owner into believing something happened that did not happen. In fact, during a sleeping state known as lucid dreaming, the brain can become certain that the sleeper has been abducted by creatures from another world.
How many people have reported being taken by aliens is not known. What is more certain is that, although these people fervently believe their stories of abduction and bizarre medical experiments, they spent the entire night safe asleep in their beds. A recent experiment demonstrated how this happens.
In the study, 20 volunteers were asked to perform a series of mental exercises as soon as they woke or when they became aware, while still asleep, that they were dreaming. These exercises enhanced lucid dreaming—the state of being aware that one is dreaming—and were intended to lead them to see themselves from afar, called an out-of-body experience. The volunteers were instructed to go “find” aliens while in this state. Seven volunteers reported success—that their dream visions included contact with alien beings or spacecraft.
Psychologists propose that the imagery of these lucid dreams comes from depictions of aliens in movies, TV shows, comics, and video games. But what provided the material for the first alien abduction story? Investigators trace the phenomenon to the late 1940s and 1950s, when the Cold War had people on edge and the Space Age was dawning. Science fiction was blossoming, and human encounters with aliens became a common theme. A 1946 comic showed an alien abducting a pretty woman, perhaps the first widely available depiction of the scene. Soon the entertainment universe was filled with aliens and their spooky experiments. The rest is history—and raw material for lucid dreams.
Image credit: © Fotolia
- Lucid Dream
Read more about the history of research into lucid dreaming, its clinical applications, and other related phenomena.
(Source: Wikipedia; accessed May 31, 2012)
- Alien Abduction Experiment
This site describes the steps in the experiment and includes quotes from the participants.
(Source: Out of Body Experience Research Center; accessed May 31, 2012)
- Near-Death Experiences Are Lucid Dreams, Experiment Finds
This story reports on another phenomenon that can be explained by lucid dreaming.
(Source: LiveScience, March 16, 2012)