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Poster C142

Can we experimentally induce a dream of our choosing?

Poster Session C - Sunday, April 14, 2024, 5:00 – 7:00 pm EDT, Sheraton Hall ABC

Daniel J. Morris1 (, Karen R. Konkoly1, Ken A. Paller1; 1Northwestern University

Memory consolidation has been linked indirectly with dreaming, but causal evidence is needed to comprehensively understand the functions of dreaming. Dream research faces several challenges, including the difficulty of experimentally controlling dream content as well as the fact that dreams reported upon awakening are subject to distortion and forgetting. Memory consolidation can be systematically manipulated using Targeted Memory Reactivation (TMR), whereby sensory stimulation during sleep can trigger processing of associated memories (most consistently during slow-wave sleep). Stimuli presented during sleep can be incorporated into dreams, but the extent to which TMR can provoke dream content has not been thoroughly tested. Here, participants performed two distinct tasks designed to be readily incorporated into dreams, each entailing a unique respiratory signature that could be objectively verified during sleep. The two tasks were associated with two different sounds. When participants entered REM sleep, experimenters presented one of the sounds, attempting to induce a dream with elements of the associated task. Participants also provided a 7-minute verbal report of each task before sleep and in the morning to test whether cue-induced dreams impacted memory. Preliminary analyses showed high rates of task incorporation in dream reports collected after each REM period. Additional analyses will assess the extent to cue-related dream elements were present. We will also determine if respiration during sleep changed as a function of cue presentations; such firm evidence of dream curation would open the door to investigating how dreaming may influence memory storage.

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April 13–16  |  2024