Revisiting our Dreams: Virtual Reality Worlds and Simulations

Maja Gutman

Maja Gutman

Researcher, UCLA Electrical and Computer Engineering Department

Dr. Gutman’s background is in the Humanities, with emphasis on Cultural and Media studies, and most recently, Consciousness studies. She completed her PhD at AMEU-ISH, Ljubljana, Slovenia. Her current research is focused on theoretical aspects of embodied cognition and its behavioural expressions in cultural data. To be able to fully co-develop new tools and methodologies for observing and measuring immersion in multi-sensory environments (VR), Dr. Gutman has started combining philosophical and neuroscientific approaches, along with various aspects from cognitive science and recent advances in data analytics. For the past three years, she has been focusing on the science of dreams by summarizing theoretical knowledge on dreams and transitioning abstract philosophical models to computational frameworks. In October 2017 Dr. Gutman and Prof. Roychowdhury submitted an intellectual property (IP) declaration titled “Methods and System for Large-Scale Dream Data in Immersive Multisensory Environment: Acquisition, Analysis, Modeling and Interpretation & Applications” to the UCLA’s Office of Technology Development.

First person perspective and intense visual impressions are key experiential modes in most dreams. In a convergent development, the latest advancements in virtual reality environments (VRE) technology have demonstrated that almost every theme from the actual world can be re-formed as a computer-generated experience. This technological development inspired us to think about dreams as simulations that can be recreated from their original versions. Our experiment shows that the initial composition of dreams (if the memory recall is sufficient) can be reconstructed as a realistic VR simulation and thus very close to the actual dream experience. The experiment also addresses the question of potential applications of such research tool (such as, diagnostic evaluations, psychotherapeutic treatments) and opens an intriguing view on future dream research where multimodal platforms might play a crucial role.