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A very interesting article has been just released: Konkoly et al., Real-time dialogue between experimenters and dreamers during REM sleep, Current Biology (2021), https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2021.01.026
The experiments were conducted by four teams of researchers in the USA, Germany, France and the Netherlands.
From summary: “Here we show that individuals who are asleep and in the midst of a lucid dream (aware of the fact that they are currently dreaming) can perceive questions from an experimenter and provide answers using electrophysiological signals. We implemented our procedures for two-way communication during polysomnographically verified rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep in 36 individuals. Some had minimal prior experience with lucid dreaming, others were frequent lucid dreamers, and one was a patient with narcolepsy who had frequent lucid dreams. During REM sleep, these individuals exhibited various capabilities, including performing veridical perceptual analysis of novel information, maintaining information in working memory, computing simple answers, and expressing volitional replies. Their responses included distinctive eye movements and selective facial muscle contractions, constituting correctly answered questions on 29 occasions across 6 of the individuals tested”.
So it turned out that there are real experiences in dreams, indeed, assuming that interactions with people in their waking state (researchers) are real experiences, therefore the gap between “reality” of waking life and “illusoriness” of dreams is not so huge as it was usually thought to be.