Scientists engineer dreams to understand the sleeping brain

By Catherine Offord

Adam Haar Horowitz is the first to admit that whispering to strangers as they fall asleep “seems a little creepy.” He’d been mulling over the idea with fellow MIT master’s student Ishaan Grover a few years ago while thinking about ways to influence the dreamlike visions people see at sleep onset, a state known as hypnagogia. The pair wondered if quietly saying words or phrases to people in hypnagogia might influence the content of their thoughts and visions, thereby serving both as a tool to investigate human cognition and, ultimately, as a means to help people wield control over their dreaming brains.

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