What Is It Like To Dream If You’re Blind?

Our nighttime fantasies are one of the many quirks of the brain thatcontinue to confuse scientists, but there is onequestion thatfrequently turns up in both online question boards and scientific studies: How do blind people experience dreams?

A paper published in Sleep Medicine back in 2014 looked into the sensory construction of dreams among blind people to try and pry into this question. Neuroscientists from the University of Copenhagen gathered 25 blind people,11 who were blind from birth and 14 who became blind after age 1, along with25 sighted participants. Over the course of four weeks, they interviewed the participantsabout their dreams and asked them to fill out a structured dream diary when they woke up each day.

The dream diaryasked all kinds of questions that youre probably curious about yourself: What form do they take? What dothey see in their dreams? Do they experience nightmares?

The study found that the blind participants reported a far richer and wider variety of senses in their dreams compared to the non-blind participants. By a considerable margin, they experienced far more vivid sensations of sound, touch, taste, and smell. The sighted people tended to just remember the visual sensation of the dream.

Those who had acquired blindness later in life andtherefore had experienced some visiondid report some visual dreams. The study noted many of these people described an object or a scene verbally in such rich visual terms that the interlocutor began to doubt if these individuals really lacked vision. However, the longer they had been blind, the shorter their memory and the more hazytheir visual impressions were.

The emotions and themes of the dreams were more or less similar. There were no notable differences between the groups inhow much they dreamed of positive and negative social situations or aggressive interactions.

Another thing thatstood out was that nightmares were notably more common in congenitally blind people. Common examples were getting lost, being hit by a car, losing their guide dogs, or falling into holes. The researchers didnt delve too deepinto why this was, however they speculate these dreams act as a shock absorber for the anxieties they encounter everyday. As so many of their day-to-day problems revolve around senses, or lack thereof, it makes sense that the sensory output of their dreams reflects this.

In a YouTube video,Tommy Edison ablind YouTuber and film critic who talks about his personal experiences in a down-to-earth and often hilarious dad-joke way discussedwhether he sees in his dreams:I have been blind since birth, so I have never seen in my life, so my subconscious doesnt know what its like to see either. I mean, the way it works for me is just the way my life occurs. Its all smell, sound, taste, and touch.

I mean just like you guys, weird thingshappens in my dreams,”he added. “Here I am, its the bottom of the ninth, runners on second and third, two men away, then all of a sudden it’s my seventh birthday.”

In another one of his videos, he answers aquestion about a common myth: Can blind people experience visuals when on psychedelic drugs?

Of course, his experiences are only anecdotal, but Tommy says for himits a similar story to dreaming if his brain doesnt know how to see, a drug wouldnt be able to make me see. If it could, dont you think Id take it every day!?

Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/brain/what-is-it-like-to-dream-if-youre-blind/

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