sciencehabit shares a report from Science Magazine: Is there something about dreaming that enhances our creativity? Or is it just sleep itself? Scientists say they’re closer to an answer, thanks to an unusual study that used an electronic glove to guide people’s dreams while they slumbered. To conduct the work, researchers invited 50 volunteers, mostly students and professors, to either stay awake or take a nap in a laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Those in the nap group laid down with an eye mask, while wearing a Dormio, a glovelike device with sensors that measure heart rate and muscle tone changes to track sleep stages. A computer linked to the device relayed audio cues to inspire the wearers to dream about specific subjects — a process called “targeted dream incubation.”

Overall, volunteers who dreamt about trees scored 78% higher on the creativity metrics than those who stayed awake just observing their thoughts and 63% higher than those who stayed awake thinking about trees. Participants who napped without hearing the prompt still got a creativity boost, but those who dreamed about trees still performed 48% better than them. The researchers also noticed that the volunteers used the content of their dreams to answer the tests. The person who dreamed that their limbs were made of old wood wrote a story about an oak king with a wood body, for example. The person who dreamed of becoming bigger than trees, meanwhile, listed “toothpick for a giant” as an alternative use for a tree. The research was published in Scientific Reports.

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