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Researchers are looking into a gadget that can trigger lucid dreams whenever they want - Slashdot


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    An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: [A] new tech startup, Prophetic, aims to bring lucid dreams to a much wider audience by developing a wearable device designed to spark the experience when desired. Prophetic is the brainchild of Eric Wollberg, its chief executive officer, and Wesley Louis Berry III, its chief technology officer. The pair co-founded the company earlier this year with the goal of combining technologies, such as ultrasound and machine learning models, "to detect when dreamers are in REM to induce and stabilize lucid dreams" with a device called the Halo according to the company's website. [...]

    Prophetic does not make any medical claims about its forthcoming products -- Halo is tentatively slated for a 2025 release -- though Wollberg and Berry both expressed optimism about broader scientific research that suggests lucid dreams can reduce PTSD-related nightmares, promote mindfulness, and open new windows into the mysterious nature of consciousness. To explore those links further, Prophetic has partnered with the Donders Institute, a research center at Radboud University in the Netherlands that is focused on neuroscience and cognition, to generate the largest dataset of electroencephalogram (EEG) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) observations of lucid dreamers, according to the company. The collaboration will also explore one of central technologies behind Prophetic's vision, known as transcranial focused ultrasound (TUS). This non-invasive technique uses low-intensity ultrasound pulses to probe the brain, and interact with neural activity, with a depth and precision that cannot be achieved with previous methods, such as transcranial electrical stimulation or transcranial magnetic stimulation.

    At this point, both the possibilities and limits of Prophetic's concept remain unclear. While ultrasound devices have been widely used in medicine for decades, the process of stimulating parts of the brain with TUS is a relatively new development. Within the past few years, scientists have shown that TUS "has the potential to be used both as a scientific instrument to investigate brain function and as a therapeutic modality to modulate brain activity," according to a 2019 study, and "could be a useful tool in the treatment of clinical disorders characterized by negative mood states, like depression and anxiety disorders," according to a 2020 study. What is not known, yet, is whether TUS can induce or stabilize lucid dreams, though the Prophetic team is banking on a positive answer to this open question. Its wearable headband prototype, the Halo, was developed with the company Card79 and can currently read EEG data of users. Over the next year, Prophetic aims to use the dataset from their partnership with the Donders Institute to train machine learning models that will stimulate targeted neural activity in users with ultrasound transducers as a means of inducing lucid dreams.


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