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Poster C155

Virtual reality and dreaming

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

D. Blaise Elliott1 (, Daniel J. Morris2, Rachel E. David3, Justin Wall4, David Glowacki5, Ken A. Paller6; 1Northwestern University, 2CiTIUS Intelligent Technologies Research Centre, 3Milarepa Center

Virtual Reality (VR) technology has great potential for exploring new dimensions of human cognition. When comparing real-world experiences, VR experiences, and dreamed experiences, in each case there is a sense in which the experience is real as well as a sense in which it is not. Dream research has historically faced many challenges, including the difficulty of experimentally controlling dream content. Waking elements commonly re-appear in dreams, but here we also used sensory stimulation to enhance incorporation. We investigated a VR experience developed by Glowacki and colleagues (2022), who reported that their multi-person experience functioned to blur conventional self-other boundaries. We used a variant, termed Ripple, using Oculus devices. Users interact in the Ripple environment, connecting from different locations. Our study began with an in-lab session lasting 90 minutes in which participants completed Ripple with one to three other participants situated in different rooms. Then they completed online dream journals each morning for a week. Then they returned to the lab to repeat the Ripple VR experience and to sleep overnight with polysomnographic recordings plus auditory reminders of Ripple. A second week of dream reports was obtained, followed by a final interview. Preliminary analyses showed that Ripple elements were incorporated into dreams. We are also examining whether any particularly profound moments of awe or beauty during Ripple influenced subsequent dreaming. This initial investigation underscores the potential for VR to produce ego attenuation and prosociality, while also biasing subsequent dreams, which could then amplify VR effects.

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April 13–16  |  2024