What is the scientific basis for “Inception”?

When I recently told my children a story, one of the stories was not only loved by children, but it also aroused my strong interest.

This story is called “I can’t hold it anymore”(a Chinese story for children), telling the story of a little boy, in the mall, looking for a toilet because of urgency.

At first, the little boy was looking for a toilet because of urgency, but every time he found a toilet, it would not work, or it would be high, or it would be scary, or it would be weird. Later, the little boy discovered that He is dreaming.

When he found out that he was dreaming, the little boy did not wake up. He woke up in a dream and then “retreated” to another dream (we call it “new dream” here) and then in “new dream”. he finally found the toilet and got “liberation”, but when he woke up, he found myself in bed, which was wet.

Is this scene extremely familiar? Don’t say that you didn’t dream like this when you were young.

“lucid dream” is real

Wake up in a dream and realize that you are dreaming, called “lucid dream” in psychology. This is a scientific fact.

The contextual design of the dream in the movie “inception” is based on the “lucid dream”.

As shown in the movie, many people will do “lucid dreams,” that is, dreamers know that they are dreaming.

Cory Barkley of the University of John F. Kennedy in the United States has conducted an investigation. He designed a questionnaire and got nearly 3,000 answers. When asked “Do you have a dream of knowing that you are dreaming?”, 65% answered “yes”, 25% answered “no”, and the other “not sure”.

On this issue, women answer “yes” more frequently than men, and young people answer “yes” more frequently than older ones.

In the same population, 34% said they could control their dreams, but more than half denied that they could do so. In the population who answered “yes”, the distribution of gender and age showed the same pattern as the previous one.

As they get older, people report that their dreams have become shorter and less vivid than they used to be, and they are not as unrestrained as before.

Inception is not a legend

Are the ideas in our brains likely to be stolen?

This is the most concerned issue after the audience watched “Inception”.

Some medical experts said that with the existing technology level, such as MRI scanners, magnetoencephalography and other technical means can capture the brain fluctuations of people, so as to obtain the information fragments of other people’s dreams, restore to black and white images, but still can not be accurate analysis, because these images are very local and very simple, and cannot be as precise as described in “Inception”. However, by planting dreams to “control” the consciousness of others, it is possible to do so in the future.

At present, scientists have successfully intervened in the chemical activities of the mouse’s brain and let it run counterclockwise.

Researchers say that one day, functional MRI scanners may be able to record and restore a person’s dreams without the hassle or danger of sharing dreams as depicted in the movie.

Sharing dreams can’t be done, sharing awake can

In a paper published 34 years ago, American philosopher Daniel Dennett predicted that one day in the future, people might be able to do such a “translation”: according to the observation of a person sleeping physiological phenomena to speculate on the content of his dreams, such as fear, falling from a height, eating cold things, even spending $12.65 to buy a ticket to New Haven, but forgot to put in which pocket.

At that time, scientists have noticed that human dreams may appear in sleep-time “quick eye sleep” (REM) – a phase between deep sleep and light sleep. They found that the rapid eye movements based on the above movements are related to the dreams of picking up basketball from the ground and then shooting. Everyone dreams, and those who claim that they are not dreaming just can’t remember it.

Dennet further speculated that the dream researchers will acquire a technical hobby in the future, which “can influence, guide, change the creative process of dreams, stop dreams, return to and even change the order of presentation, block or distort the memory process of people’s dreams.”

This is exactly the same as the idea of the movie “Inception”. Only the film director Christopher Nolan used the technology on the dark side. He made the protagonist Cobb a thief who could sneak into other people’s dreams and steal secrets. Cobb can even plant ideas in other people’s dreams that did not exist.

Although similar, Nolan repeatedly said that he did not have a deep understanding of the scientific research of dreams before filming. The statement about dreams in his films is based solely on his own dream experience.

In the movie, the sharing and control of dreams is achieved through an instrument called PASIV; drugs and electromagnetic stimulation work together through PASIV. In reality, there is a technique called “transcranial cortical magnetic stimulation” that does change a person’s brain activity by inputting a pulsed magnetic field to the target brain. However, this method has so far only been used in an awake state, and the main purpose is to alleviate depression or prevent epilepsy.

Can dreams be controlled?

The easiest way to experience a lucid dream is to train yourself to ask a question like this when you are sleepy: “Am I dreaming?” Some people who are obsessed with video games are especially good at it. This kind of lucid dream may be because they have hours of energy every day to complete a task.

The theft dream experts in “Inception” are highly trained and good at this. This may be the reason why they can complete complex tasks (such as reading in a dream). For most people who are lucid dreamers, they are It’s hard to do this. In The Pirates of the Dream space, some characters can also arm themselves in a dream to prevent other invaders from invading their dreams.

Is the time of dream really slowing down?

In “Inception”, the time in a dream is much slower than in the real world, and there is also a so-called “scaling effect”, that is, if there is another dream in your dream, the speed of time passes and it will be slower. Therefore, 5 minutes in real life is equivalent to one hour in a dream, and a dream time of 5 minutes is equivalent to a week in a secondary dream.

This virtual depiction of dreams and real time may be the crowning touch of “Inception”. However, apart from marveling at the ingenious conception of this film, there is no evidence at this stage to prove this. In fact, the researchers found some evidence in the study of lucid dreams, at least when the dreamers wake up, their feelings about time will have the changes described above.

A more pressing question for researchers is what happens when our brain’s perception of time is a problem. In fact, although the illusion of time is produced by the brain itself, like the plot in “Inception”, this illusion is also confusing for scientists.

Is there a dream in the dream?

Dream in dream, as the name suggests, are from one dream into another, and many people have expressed their dream in dream.

Modern psychology believes that the first dream is the easiest to be recognized by the brain. When we realize that we are dreaming (that is, lucid dream) in the dream, we try to wake up from the dream and find that we are still in the dream. This is the second dream.

As stated in “Inception”, the deeper the dream enters, the more dangerous it is. It may be difficult to wake up, or you may never wake up.

The study found that when a person truly enters a dream of dreams, the function of the thalamus is actually suppressed. At this time, people are easily lost, controlled by dreams, and you can no longer distinguish between dreams and reality, feeling that you are dreaming, realizing the feeling that “I am facing danger”, but unable to escape, is equivalent to death. American psychologists have studied 150 sudden death experiencers, many of whom have experienced dreams, and they have basically the same description of the horrible dreams that are difficult to get rid of.


“Inception” contains so many sciences about dreams. It is too powerful to admire directors and screenwriters. Many classic sci-fi films in Hollywood are very respectful of scientific facts, although there are many places that exaggerate. But the film itself is art, it is based on science, but higher than science, and even rises to the height of morality and philosophy.

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