Poet Anderson Meets the Science Behind Lucid Dreaming

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Lucid dreaming, the act of being able to acknowledge and control your dreams, has been a topic of fascination for centuries and has influenced films, books, art, and culture. Now a new multimedia project is taking lucidity to a new level.

Poet Anderson: The Dream Walker follows the epic adventure of Poet and his journey into the Dream World, an alternate universe formed by the collective unconscious of humankind. The project is the brainchild of Blink-182 cofounder and Angels and Airwaves front man Tom DeLonge, and includes an award-winning animated short, comic books, a novel, videos, and musical albums.

DeLonge explains, “Nightmares are basically tools to help prepare you for real world events. I loved the idea of this character being in your dreams and to guide you and protect you and inform your decision making in the real world. That’s where it spawned from.”

But the concept is far from being completely science-fiction. Lucid dreaming, while not overtly common, is in fact a proven reality. Scientists have long wondered how to accurately study dreaming, but recent experiments are beginning to shed light on the mysteries behind this bizarrely fantastical world.

Neuroscientists at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development and the MP Institute of Psychiatry in Germany believe that they’ve discovered the part of the brain responsible for lucid dreaming, the anterior prefrontal cortex. In a study comparing frequent lucid dreams with those who’ve never, to their knowledge, had a lucid dream has shown that the prefrontal cortex is abnormally large in those invited to the dream playground. 

The prefrontal cortex is thought to be the area of the brain associated with the “orchestration of thoughts and actions in accordance with internal goals.” This link with self-awareness and metacognition has lead researchers to surmise that those able to lucid dream are also more self-aware in their waking lives.

Lucid dreaming occurs during the rapid eye movement (REM) stage, and, while this area is considered to be asleep during the REM stage, certain studies have suggested that this portion of the brain can activate, leading to the simultaneous occurrence of dreaming and logic. When this happens and something out of place materializes in a dream, say a T-Rex cooking pancakes, your brain is able to realize the absurdity of the situation enabling self-awareness. 

Once aware that a dream is occurring, a lucky handful can control the dream world and facilitate their wildest imaginations with no known consequences. Unfortunately for Poet Anderson, actions in the dream world have a real effect on his waking life, which he has to find out the hard way.

Poet Anderson ...Of Nightmares, the full-length novel penned by New York Times best-selling author Suzanne Young and Tom DeLonge, is set to release in Fall 2015. Exclusive pre-order packages will be available in the To The Stars online store that include enhanced versions of the book, original music and limited edition merchandise. 

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