A study with echoes of the movie Inception has shown how people who control their dreams engage specific parts of the brain.
The research provides a window into the sleep state and could be a first step towards "reading" dreams, scientists say. It involved scanning the brains of "lucid" dreamers, who are aware they are dreaming and can control their actions in dreams.
The learned skill offers an opportunity to investigate the brain activity involved in dreaming. "Dreaming is not just looking at a dream movie," said researcher Dr Martin Dresler, of the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry in Munich. "Brain regions representing specific body motions are activated."
The findings, published in the journal Current Biology, show for the first time that neural activity in the brain's sensorimotor cortex can be related to body actions in dreams.