In a new paper, a team led by Adam Haar Horowitz, a neuroscientist from MIT describes how a wearable electronic device called Dormio enables what the team calls ‘Targeted Dream Incubation‘ (TDI). They have recently tested this prototype system on a group of people which have shown good results.
The Targeted Dream Incubation (TDI) method is a technique for guiding dreams towards specific themes. Before sleeping, you choose a theme like “rabbits” or “The Rock,” and then, once you begin sleeping, sounds associated with this theme are used to a) remind you of the theme at targeted times and b) suspend you in early sleep stages, so you can still hear the sound even as you dream.
Much like a similar experimental method called Targeted Memory Reactivation (TMR), which reactivates specific memories by a cue delivered during sleep, TDI might also be used as a tool to improve memory consolidation.
An advantage for TDI here is the device Dormio which is an electronic wearable. What does this device do?
Once a person with this device on hand sleeps, it plays audio cues via an associated app, such as “Remember to think of a tree”.
The Dormio sensors find physiological signals to confirm the person have fallen asleep, at this point it rouses them briefly, prompting them to say what was going through their mind as they slept, with their verbal dream report recorded by the app.
“Targeted dream incubation is a protocol for reactivating memories during sleep in a manner that leads to incorporation of the targeted memory, or related memories, into dream content,” the researchers explain in their paper
Though the research team is refining the current prototype system, the experimental results show that the device successfully influences the content of the dream and document their contents to a significant extent. In the test done by the researchers on “Remember to think of a tree”, they have observed that 67% of people had a dream about trees.
Dormio: A targeted dream incubation device (Consciousness and Cognition Journal) doi.org/10.1016/j.concog.2020.102938