Sunday, 24 November 2013

Stephen LaBerge 's Lucid Dream Lab

Here is Stephen LaBerge a psychophysiologist and a leader in the scientific study of lucid dreaming. He began researching lucid dreaming for his Ph.D. in Psychophysiology at Stanford University, which he received in 1980.. He developed techniques to enable himself and other researchers to enter a lucid dream at will. Here is his account of how he ' proved ' the reality of lucid dreaming.
" From the very beginning, I had been interested in the possibility, first raised by Charles Tart, of
communication from the lucid dream to the outside world, while the dream was happening.
 The problem was, since most of the dreamer's body is paralyzed during REM sleep, how could the dreamer send such a message? What might the lucid dreamer be able to do within the dream that could be
observed or measured by scientists? A plan suggested itself to me. There is one obvious exception to this
muscular paralysis, since eye movements are in no way inhibited during REM sleep. After all, it is the
occurrence of rapid eye movements that gives this stage of sleep its name. Earlier dream studies had shown that there is sometimes a precise correspondence between the direction
of dreamers' observable eye movements and the direction they are looking in their dreams.

 In one remarkable example, a subject was awakened from REM sleep after making a series of about two dozen regular horizontal eye movements. He reported that in his dream he had been watching a Ping-Pong
game, and just before being awakened he had been following a long volley with his dream gaze. I knew that lucid dreamers could freely look in any direction they wished while in a lucid dream,
because I had done this myself. It occurred to me that by moving my (dream) eyes in a recognizable
pattern, I might be able to send a signal to the outside world when I was having a lucid dream. I tried
this out in the first lucid dream that I recorded: I moved my dream gaze up, down, up, down, up, to the
count of five. As far as I knew at the time, this was the first signal deliberately transmitted from the
dream world. The only trouble, of course, is that there was no one in the outside world to record it!
What I needed was a dream lab. I knew Stanford University had an excellent one under the direction of
the sleep and dream research pioneer, Dr. William C. Dement. I made inquiries in the summer of 1977
and found a researcher, Dr. Lynn Nagel, at the Stanford University Sleep Research Center who was very
interested in the prospects of studying lucid dreams in the laboratory.

In September of the same year, I applied to Stanford University, proposing to study lucid dreams as part
of a Ph.D. program in psychophysiology. My proposal was approved, and in the fall of 1977 I started my
work on lucid dreams. Serving on my faculty committee were professors Karl Pribram and Roger
Shepard from psychology, Julian Davidson from physiology, and Vincent Zarcone Jr. and William
Dement from psychiatry. Since Lynn Nagel was not a member of the Stanford faculty, our relationship
was entirely unofficial. However, Lynn was my de facto principal advisor and collaborator on my
dissertation research.
Lynn and I didn't waste any time getting me into the sleep lab. On my first night we had, unfortunately,
decided to see if it would be helpful to awaken me at the beginning of each REM period in order to
remind me to dream lucidly when I went back to sleep. It is clear in hindsight that this was not a good
idea, since the result was very little REM sleep. It was not very helpful being reminded to dream lucidly
when doing so prevented me from dreaming at all!
Worse than that was what happened in my first dream. The Stanford sleep lab has its windows boarded
up to allow for time-isolation studies. I felt a little claustrophobic because of this, and apparently, by
way of compensation, had the following dream. It seemed as if I had awoken at dawn and was
witnessing an exquisitely beautiful sunrise through the picture window next to my bed. But before I had
time to be more than startled by this anomaly, I was awakened by Lynn's voice reminding me to have a
lucid dream.

We decided that next time we would let me have more of a chance—both to sleep and to have lucid 
dreams. We scheduled our next recording night for a month later—the next available opening—which 
happened to be Friday the 13th of January, 1978. 

 Every time I had a lucid dream (at home) while waiting for the fateful date, I would suggest to myself that I would do it again in the lab. Finally the night arrived, and Lynn hooked me up and watched the polygraph recording while I slept. I had been hoping that Friday the 13th would prove to be my lucky night, and that turned out to be the case.
I slept very well indeed, and after seven and a half hours in bed had my first lucid dream in the lab. A 
moment before, I had been dreaming—but then I suddenly realized that I must be asleep because I 
couldn't see, feel, or hear anything. I recalled with delight that I was sleeping in the laboratory. The 
image of what seemed to be the instruction booklet for a vacuum cleaner or some such appliance floated 
by. It struck me as mere flotsam on the stream of consciousness, but as I focused on it and tried to read 
the writing, the image gradually stabilized and I had the sensation of opening my (dream) eyes. Then my 
hands appeared, with the rest of my dream body, and I was looking at the booklet in bed. My dream 
room was a reasonably good copy of the room in which I was actually asleep. Since I now had a dream 
body I decided to do the eye movements that we had agreed upon as a signal. I moved my finger in a 
vertical line in front of me, following it with my eyes. But I had become very excited over being able to 
do this at last, and the thought disrupted my dream so that it faded a few seconds later. 

Afterward, we observed two large eye movements on the polygraph record just before I awakened from 
a thirteen-minute REM period. Here, finally, was objective evidence that at least one lucid dream had 
taken place during what was clearly REM sleep! I sent a note to the 1979 meeting of the APSS in Tokyo 
mentioning this and other evidence suggesting that lucid dreams are associated with REM sleep.

 Of course, I did not expect anyone to be convinced of the reality of lucid dreaming by this brief summary. 
But I wanted to share our results with other dream researchers as quickly as possible.

I found this account in - Stephen LaBerge – Lucid Dreaming - free books reading online . It's a really interesting pdf and well worth reading if you are interested in Lucid Dreaming  it's origins and history.

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