Digital Dreams to Solve Real Nightmares

October 28th, 2011 by Kel Smith | Filed under Uncategorized, Virtual Reality

Digitally manufacturing dreams by viewing a laptop computer screen

Digitally manufacturing dreams by viewing a laptop computer screen. Illustrations by Uniformed Services Academy of Family Physicians .

A story this week from Wired describes the U.S. Army’s efforts to develop methods for digitally manufacturing dreams. The intention is to soothe the minds of combat veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a serious affliction where nightmares affect 52% of the patient population.

The idea is to “take control of … customized healing imagery to counter the impact of (these) nightmares.” The hope is that artificially manufactured dreams, viewed from laptops or via virtual reality tools, can become part of a home-training regimen to gradually enhance the positive, cognitive impact of dreams:

The project is another twist on biofeedback therapy, in which a PTSD-sufferer is fed real-time data on his physical stress levels so that he can be cued to calm down. If he successfully brings down his heart rate and anxiety levels, he may be rewarded with visual cues … the problem with existing biofeedback methods is that many patients aren’t able to easily call up imaginary scenarios in their heads that will cue them to relax. So this experiment hopes to get soldiers to custom-design scenes that they can play back to themselves.

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