Flying dreams stimulated by an immersive virtual reality task

Conscious Cogn. 2020 Aug:83:102958. doi: 10.1016/j.concog.2020.102958. Epub 2020 Jul 13.


Despite a high prevalence and broad interest in flying dreams, these exceptional experiences remain infrequent. Our study aimed to (1) induce flying dreams using a custom-built virtual reality (VR) flying task, (2) examine their phenomenological correlates and (3) investigate their relations to participant state and trait factors. 137 participants underwent VR-flying followed by a morning nap. They also completed home dream journals for 5 days before and 10 days after the VR exposure. VR-flying successfully increased the reporting of flying dreams during the laboratory nap and on the following morning compared to both baseline frequencies and a control cohort. Flying dreams were also changed qualitatively, exhibiting higher levels of Lucid-control and emotional intensity, after VR exposure. Factors such as prior dream-flying experiences and level of VR sensory immersion modulated flying dream induction. Findings are consistent with a new vection-based explanation of dream-flying and may facilitate development of dream flight-induction technologies.

Keywords: Dreaming; Flight simulation; Gravity imagery; Immersion; Lucid dreaming; Sense of presence; Vection; Virtual reality.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Dreams / physiology*
  • Female
  • Gravity Sensing / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Imagination / physiology*
  • Male
  • Virtual Reality*
  • Young Adult

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