Lucid dreaming and ventromedial versus dorsolateral prefrontal task performance

Conscious Cogn. 2011 Jun;20(2):234-44. doi: 10.1016/j.concog.2010.08.001. Epub 2010 Sep 9.


Activity in the prefrontal cortex may distinguish the meta-awareness experienced during lucid dreams from its absence in normal dreams. To examine a possible relationship between dream lucidity and prefrontal task performance, we carried out a prospective study in 28 high school students. Participants performed the Wisconsin Card Sort and Iowa Gambling tasks, then for 1 week kept dream journals and reported sleep quality and lucidity-related dream characteristics. Participants who exhibited a greater degree of lucidity performed significantly better on the task that engages the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (the Iowa Gambling Task), but degree of lucidity achieved did not distinguish performance on the task that engages the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (the Wisconsin Card Sort Task), nor did it distinguish self-reported sleep quality or baseline characteristics. The association between performance on the Iowa Gambling Task and lucidity suggests a connection between lucid dreaming and ventromedial prefrontal function.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Awareness / physiology
  • Dreams / physiology*
  • Dreams / psychology
  • Female
  • Gambling / psychology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology*
  • Sleep / physiology
  • Task Performance and Analysis*