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MIT Scientists Working on Tech That Can Manipulate Your Dreams

by Paul Strauss

Dreams are weird enough all on their own. So the idea that technology could be used to influence your dreams seems like it could produce even stranger results. Now, researchers from MIT are developing a system that could do just that.

A team of scientists at MIT Media Lab’s Fluid Interfaces group has come up with a way to monitor one’s sleep cycle and to induce thoughts using a method called Targeted Dream Incubation or TDI. The technique involves the use of a hand-worn sleep tracking device that monitors the subject’s heart rate, skin conductivity, and the position of their fingers to determine when they have entered an early sleep state called hypnagogia. Working in concert with an app, the system delivers audio cues to the subject, then wakes the sleeper with prompts to record what they remembered in a journal.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from .

In their study of 25 participants, the researchers found that 67% of their dream reports mentioned some obvious incorporation of the suggestion. Take the example of the word “tree.” The dream journals included descriptions of a tree-shaped car, a shaman sitting beneath a tree, and images of trees splitting into pieces. We’re clearly not talking about the kind of detailed world-building depicted in Christopher Nolan’s Inception, but the technique could be used to help inspire creative brainstorming sessions on a particular topic or to help redirect stressful dreams in a more positive direction.

You can find more detail on the dream manipulation research study and its possibilities over on Live Science and the MIT Media Lab website.

[via adafruit blog]



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