When people dream they are performing a particular action, a part of their brain involved in the planning and execution of movement lights up with activity, says a new study.
According to Current Biology, scanning the brains of lucid dreamers while they slept, would give a glimpse into the non-waking consciousness, and is the first step towards true "dream reading."
"Dreaming is not just looking at a dream movie," Martin Dresler of the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry said.
"Brain regions representing specific body motions are activated."
Lucid dreamers are said to be aware that they are dreaming and can deliberately control their actions in their dreams.
The researchers realized that this learned skill presents an opportunity for studying the neural underpinnings of our dreams.
"The main obstacle in studying specific dream content is that spontaneous dream activity cannot be experimentally controlled, as subjects typically cannot perform predecided mental actions during sleep," study co-author Michael Czisch said.
"Employing the skill of lucid dreaming can help to overcome these obstacles."
The researchers instructed participants to make a series of left and right hand movements separated by a series of eye movements when they were entering a lucid dream state while their brains were scanned.
Those eye movements served as signal to the researchers of what was happening in their dream.