How you can control your dreams — an expert explains how lucid dreaming works

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You may have heard of lucid dreaming, the type of dream where the dreamer is aware of dreaming. Is lucid dreaming a real phenomenon? Sleep expert Matthew Walker explains how much we know about lucid dreams so far. Following is a transcript of the video.

Jessica Orwig: What if we could control our dreams?

When most of us dream, our thoughts and actions are involuntary. The dream plays out as if we were watching a movie. But not all dreams are the same. There is another kind of dreaming called lucid dreaming, which is more like playing a video game than watching a movie.

Matthew Walker: By definition lucid dreaming is simply the act of knowing that you’re dreaming whilst you’re dreaming.

My name is Matthew Walker. I am a professor of neuroscience and psychology at the University of California Berkeley.

Most people actually think of lucid dreaming more in the sense of actually beginning to control what you’re dreaming. So, you gain volitional control and you decide what’s going to happen during your dream.

Orwig: Frequent lucid dreamers claim that they can control many parts of the dream such as teleporting themselves to another location, learning to improve real-life skills, or even eating fire. It might sound far-fetched. And until recently we lacked the technology to prove if lucid dreaming was real or not. But a series of recent studies has shed light on the phenomenon.

Walker: Scientists have designed experiments and they’ve been able to demonstrate objectively that when people say that they’re doing something in that dream that they actually are.

Orwig: In 2012, scientists reported results from one of the first experiments that objectively measured lucid dreams using fMRI scanners.  fMRIs measure the rate of blood flow to different areas of the brain, so they can relay information about a person’s thoughts and actions simply through a series of images.


For the study, scientists first asked participants to clench their fists while they were awake. This lit up key areas of the brain on the fMRI scanner. After that, participants were asked to fall asleep and dream about clenching their fists. Sure enough — similar regions of the brain lit up in both cases.

Lucid dreaming comes naturally to some, but many of us have never experienced the sensation. However, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.

Walker: How can we actually become more capable of lucid dreaming? Well, it’s a little bit tricky, but you can certainly try to tell yourself that you will remember that you’re dreaming whilst you’re dreaming before you actually fall asleep. So, try to go through a mantra chant as it were. Some people actually try to do deliberative things whilst sleeping, like turning on the lights in a room. And that helps them to become aware that they are dreaming at the moment of dreaming itself and therefore they gain lucid control.

Orwig: Those who can already control their dreams with ease say lucid dreams aren’t only for entertainment but can also be used to expand one’s conscious boundaries.

On the other hand, lucid dreamers have also reported frightening accounts where they have trouble distinguishing reality from the dream. In some cases, this can be a sign of mental illness, and should be taken seriously.

But why do some people have the ability to lucid dream but not others? And what is happening in our subconscious that triggers the experience? There’s still a lot we have to learn about the causes and effects of lucid dreaming.

Walker: It seems to be only around 20 to 30% of the population are actually natural lucid dreamers. So, perhaps if it was so beneficial mother nature would have had all of us being table of lucid dreaming. And the fact that we’re not perhaps means that it’s not necessarily beneficial. But we actually don’t know. Maybe those 20 to 30% of people who do lucid dream are at the forefront of hominid evolution, and they are going to be the next species of preference. We just don’t know.

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How Amazon solved people’s biggest fear about shopping in its cashierless stores (AMZN)

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  • Amazon Go, the retailers camera and sensor-filled cashierless store, opened on January 22.
  • The company says the store is "highly accurate" at being able to tell what you took off the shelf and charging you for it.
  • If the store does make a mistake, fixing it is easy.

Amazon has opened its new cashierless store, with no lines and no waiting.

Amazon Go’s convenience is easy to understand, but concerns still arise. How will the store charge me correctly? And if it gets it wrong, is it easy to fix?

As the store was in beta for the last year, open only to Amazon employees, the company has had plenty of time to fine-tune its array of sensors, cameras, and other technology to ensure that customers will be charged correctly for what they took off the shelf in the store.

Gianna Puerini, head of Amazon’s Go program, told the Seattle Times that the system is "highly accurate." If there’s a question, a greeter standing near the entrance might ask you to show a receipt, though that only happens a "small fraction of the time.

For those times the system does not get right, you might walk out and notice that the system charged you for something you didn’t take. Luckily, getting rid of the charge is as simple as swiping it away on the receipt in the app, according to Puerini.

Amazon Go’s accuracy was reportedly a factor in delaying its opening from a year ago. The store was a lengthy beta test open only to Amazon employees since it opened in late 2016. Amazon said it had such an enthusiastic response from employees, it didn’t need to open the beta to the public.

Since then, it used all kinds of methods to try and trick the system, including dressing three employees in identical bright yellow Pikachu costumes. The store successfully tracked all three of the dressed up characters, charging them accurately for what they took off the shelf.

SEE ALSO: Amazon’s new cashierless store is its latest huge bet in defiance of the retail apocalypse

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NOW WATCH: Expect Amazon to make a surprising acquisition in 2018, says CFRA

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Liam Neeson’s story about his first reaction to seeing Helen Mirren is amazing

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You may not have known this about Liam Neeson and Helen Mirren, but they actually used to date. They even lived together for a few years, too.

Well, during Friday’s edition of The Graham Norton Show, they had a little reunion. And Neeson opened up about the time he and his friend and co-star Ciarán Hinds were first introduced to Mirren on the set of the 1981 film Excalibur.

"She walked from like 100 yards away dressed as Morgana le Fay, and Ciarán’s my oldest friend, and we both went: Fuck," says Neeson in the clip above. "So I was smitten. I think Ciarán was smitten too, but I was certainly smitten." Read more…

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KORG just released a bunch of new stuff – here’s what’s what

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Call it KORGmas. Okay, probably don’t call it that. But KORG just released a mess of gear for musicians. Here’s all of it in one place – and what to know.

KORG Gadget for Nintendo Switch
Available: Spring 2018
Price: Unknown

What’s it for: Get a production studio on your Nintendo Gadget – which means You’ll be able to download from Nintendo’s eShop. 16 synth and drum machine gadgets. Running on Nintendo’s game console means you can go from handheld to couch and TV screen easily (a trick even your iPad can’t pull off), using the JoyCon.

Coolest feature: 4-player Multiplayer Mode for collaboration.

Volca Mix
Available: This month
Price: US$169.99

What’s it for: Connect up to three volcas, give them a master clock, power, mix the, route out to effects, and add compression/expansion with sidechaining.

Coolest feature: All the cables are in the box – add three volcas and nothing else, and get playing.

Prologue
Available: This month
Price: US$1499-$1999

What’s it for: Builds on the popular Minilogue and Prologue with 8- or 16-voice polyphony and 49- or 61-key keyboards, plus new Mod and Delay/Reverb effects. A deep architecture lets you split or layer, and play in different modes (poly / chord / mono / unison).

Coolest feature: An upcoming SDK will let you code your own oscillators and effects – or just sit back and grab ones other people have built.

Konnect
Available: This month
Price: US$399.99

What’s it for: It’s a portable PA – Bluetooth, four-channel mixer, EQ, and a connected app.

Coolest feature: Finally, it’s Bluetooth for people who like it loud. It’s 300 watts peak.

AW-OTG, AW-OTB tuners
Available: February
Price: US$49.99

What’s it for: KORG’s AW tuners started the electronic tuner revoution. Now, they’ve got OLED screens. Plus there’s a new chord finder (which responds as you play) on the guitar model, and a tempo finder on the ‘bass’ model.

Skip it: You can save money with the new GA/CA-50 tuners for about half this price, but… they’re not as cool.

Coolest feature: Well, tough to choose: smart chord and tempo detection, plus that pretty screen.

KDM-3 metronome
Available: This month
Price: US$59.99

What’s it for: It’s the latest generation of KORG’s flagship digital metronomes. And it brings new patterns and new sounds, including an acoustic metronome.

Coolest feature: The design, obviously, which comes in black or white – it’s finally a metronome gadget that doesn’t look like a metronome gadget.

KR-55 Pro
Available: This month
Price: US$299.99

What’s it for: It’s a drum/groove machine for people who like the sound of real drums – a little like those groove plug-ins, but in hardware. 24 rhythm styles, multiple patterns and chaining, and SD card playback.

Coolest feature: There’s “Acoustage” built in – for virtual immersive surround meant to sound like an acoustic stage.

D1 Digital Piano
Available: TBD
Price: TBD (actually now shows EUR699 here in Europe including tax, so that’s aggressive)

What’s it for: KORG’s finest graded action now is in a more compact body.

Coolest feature: 88 keys in 16 kg and one that looks like you could tote. This could compare favorably against tough competition from Yamaha and Casio.

And you could still get an ARP ODYSSEY

It wouldn’t be KORG without some bundling and special color schemes. Now the ODYSSEY FS is back for 2018 with historical limited-edition paint schemes and the SQ-1 sequncer bundled in free. US$1599.99, this year (no month info).

Odyssey modules are coming?!

Oh yeah, KORG also refers to coming “modules” of the Odyssey FS series. Is this KORG’s Eurorack entry for Odyssey? Let’s see about that….

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7 Things You Didn’t Know about Point Break

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The ORIGINAL Point Break is inarguably one of the best movies about bank-robbing surfers. Full disclosure—there’s no particular reason we’re covering this movie other than it’s awesome and we wanna. So enjoy some things about Keanu, Swayze, Busey and the Ex-Presidents!

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