Aarhus University Seal / Aarhus Universitets segl

I could do that in my sleep: skilled performance in dreams

Talk by Melanie Rosen, IMC

2020.01.28 | Anne-Mette Pedersen

Date Tue 25 Feb
Time 11:00 13:00
Location IMC Meeting Room, Jens Chr. Skous Vej 4, Building 1483-312


Skilled performance occurs in dreams if we take dream reports at face value. However, what these reports indicate is somewhat unclear. It is uncertain what it means to perform any action in a dream whatsoever. Here it is argued that although there are a broad variety of experiences that occur in dreams, some of which would be better described as imagination, some dreams provide a realistic virtual reality simulation of performing in a world. If some dreams generate a convincing world in which we have virtual bodies that interact with virtual objects, there is a sense in which we can perform in dreams, although this performance is virtual. It is a further issue whether we can perform skillfully, however. Since the dream world is generated by the dreamer’s own mind, the dream world may simply allow them to achieve goals without the abilities that would be required in a similar waking scenario. By distinguishing between abilities that are afforded by competence versus opportunity, here it is argued that individual dream reports alone cannot determine whether the dreamer has performed skilfully or whether they simply have been given the opportunity to succeed due to the dream world making the task easy to accomplish. However, separate evidence suggests that it is indeed possible for a dreamer to perform skillfully. Evidence from cognitive science suggests that dreamers can also lose competence through forgetting and other cognitive incapacities but, more surprisingly, it is possible to gain abilities in a robust sense.


About the speaker

Melanie Rosen, Postdoc
Interacting Minds Centre