Aspectos epidemiológicos, cognitivo-comportamentais e neurofisiológicos do sonho lúcido
ROLIM, Sergio Arthuro Mota. Aspectos epidemiológicos, cognitivo-comportamentais e neurofisiológicos do sonho lúcido. 2012. 331 f. Tese (Doutorado em Estudos de Comportamento; Psicologia Fisiológica) - Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Norte, Natal, 2012.
Rolim, Sergio Arthuro Mota
Lucid dreaming (LD) is a mental state in which the subject is aware of being dreaming while dreaming. The prevalence of LD among Europeans, North Americans and Asians is quite variable (between 26 and 92%) (Stepansky et al., 1998; Schredl & Erlacher, 2011; Yu, 2008); in Latin Americans it is yet to be investigated. Furthermore, the neural bases of LD remain controversial. Different studies have observed that LD presents power increases in the alpha frequency band (Tyson et al., 1984), in beta oscillations recorded from the parietal cortex (Holzinger et al., 2006) and in gamma rhythm recorded from the frontal cortex (Voss et al., 2009), in comparison with non-lucid dreaming. In this thesis we report epidemiological and neurophysiological investigations of LD. To investigate the epidemiology of LD (Study 1), we developed an online questionnaire about dreams that was answered by 3,427 volunteers. In this sample, 56% were women, 24% were men and 20% did not inform their gender (the median age was 25 years). A total of 76.5% of the subjects reported recalling dreams at least once a week, and about two-thirds of them reported dreaming always in the first person, i.e. when the dreamer observes the dream from within itself, not as another dream character. Dream reports typically depicted actions (93.3%), known people (92.9%), sounds/voices (78.5%), and colored images (76.3%). The oneiric content was related to plans for upcoming days (37.8%), and memories of the previous day (13.8%). Nightmares were characterized by general anxiety/fear (65.5%), feeling of being chased (48.5%), and non-painful unpleasant sensations (47.6%). With regard to LD, 77.2% of the subjects reported having experienced LD at least once in their lifetime (44.9% reported up to 10 episodes ever). LD frequency was weakly correlated with dream recall frequency (r = 0.20, p <0.001) and was higher in men (χ2=10.2, p=0.001). The control of LD was rare (29.7%) and inversely correlated with LD duration (r=-0.38, p <0.001), which is usually short: to 48.5% of the subjects, LD takes less than 1 minute. LD occurrence is mainly associated with having sleep without a fixed time to wake up (38.3%), which increases the chance of having REM sleep (REMS). LD is also associated with stress (30.1%), which increases REMS transitions into wakefulness. Overall, the data suggest that dreams and nightmares can be evolutionarily understood as a simulation of the common situations that happen in life, and that are related to our social, psychological and biological integrity. The results also indicate that LD is a relatively common experience (but not recurrent), often elusive and difficult to control, suggesting that LD is an incomplete stationary stage (or phase transition) between REMS and wake state. Moreover, despite the variability of LD prevalence among North Americans, Europeans and Asians, our data from Latin Americans strengthens the notion that LD is a general phenomenon of the human species. To further investigate the neural bases of LD (Study 2), we performed sleep recordings of 32 non-frequent lucid dreamers (sample 1) and 6 frequent lucid dreamers (sample 2). In sample 1, we applied two cognitive-behavioral techniques to induce LD: presleep LD suggestion (n=8) and light pulses applied during REMS (n=8); in a control group we made no attempt to influence dreaming (n=16). The results indicate that it is quite difficult but still possible to induce LD, since we could induce LD in a single subject, using the suggestion technique. EEG signals from this one subject exhibited alpha (7-14 Hz) bursts prior to LD. These bursts were brief (about 3s), without significant change in muscle tone, and independent of the presence of rapid eye movements. No such bursts were observed in the remaining 31 subjects. In addition, LD exhibited significantly higher occipital alpha and right temporo-parietal gamma (30-50 Hz) power, in comparison with non-lucid REMS. In sample 2, LD presented increased frontal high-gamma (50-100 Hz) power on average, in comparison with non-lucid REMS; however, this was not consistent across all subjects, being a clear phenomenon in just one subject. We also observed that four of these volunteers showed an increase in alpha rhythm power over the occipital region, immediately before or during LD. Altogether, our preliminary results suggest that LD presents neurophysiological characteristics that make it different from both waking and the typical REMS. To the extent that the right temporo-parietal and frontal regions are related to the formation of selfconsciousness and body internal image, we suggest that an increased activity in these regions during sleep may be the neurobiological mechanism underlying LD. The alpha rhythm bursts, as well as the alpha power increase over the occipital region, may represent micro-arousals, which facilitate the contact of the brain during sleep with the external environment, favoring the occurrence of LD. This also strengthens the notion that LD is an intermediary state between sleep and wakefulness