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Motor Learning in Lucid Dreams: Prevalence, Induction, and Effectiveness

Stumbrys, Tadas

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The purpose of the present investigation was to explore the potentials for motor learning in a special state of consciousness – so called lucid dreams (dreams in which the dreamers are aware that they are dreaming): its prevalence among athletes, facilitating methods and effectiveness. The contents of this dissertation are structured in the following way. The first chapter introduces the concept of mental practice in sports, reviews the evidence for its effectiveness and presents main theories explaining its effects. Further, the empirical evidence showing the correspondence between imagined and executed actions is discussed, which supports the theoretical view of a functional equivalence between covert and overt motor actions. The second chapter presents the basics of human sleep and the relation of sleep to memory consolidation, especially in terms of procedural (motor) memory. It also introduces the basics of dreams and dream research. The third chapter presents the phenomenon of lucid dreaming, its incidence and frequency rates, underlying physiology and psychology. The fourth chapter, the core of the present investigation, focuses on the application of lucid dreams in sports and, specifically, in motor learning. Anecdotal accounts and previous research is discussed and the present empirical work is introduced. The first study (Paper 1) surveyed the frequency of lucid dreaming and lucid dream practice in athletes. In the second study (Paper 2), a systematic review was conducted to examine the empirical evidence for all different methods for lucid dream induction that have been suggested in the literature. Then a sleep laboratory study followed to test one of the prospective methods suggested in the literature but not yet examined – an induction of lucid dreams via transcranial brain stimulation (Paper 3). Lastly, an online study was carried out in which the effectiveness of motor practice was compared to actual physical practice and mental practice in wakefulness (Paper 4). Finally, the last chapter provides an overall discussion of the findings and directions for future research.

Document type: Dissertation
Supervisor: Roth, Prof. Dr. Klaus
Date of thesis defense: 25 July 2014
Date Deposited: 14 Apr 2015 10:12
Date: 2015
Faculties / Institutes: The Faculty of Behavioural and Cultural Studies > Institut für Sport und Sportwissenschaft
DDC-classification: 150 Psychology
796 Athletic and outdoor sports and games
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