Each month, we offer the spotlight to one of our funded researchers to exhibit their research projects in more detail.
The Featured Researcher for October 2023 was Adriana Alcaraz Sánchez.
Adriana Alcaraz-Sánchez (she/her) is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Centre for Philosophical Psychology at the University of Antwerp. She is currently working on a research project at the intersection between philosophy and psychology which investigates the links between dreaming and daydreaming.
Adriana very recently completed her PhD thesis at the University of Glasgow. For her thesis, she investigated a phenomenon widely reported in Indian contemplative traditions known as “the clear light sleep”, an experience described as a state of “pure awareness” during sleep. According to people who have experienced it, such a state involves a state of very minimal awareness during sleep, a state in which one feels as if one is “simply aware” without being aware of anything in particular. Such a state has been described for centuries in certain Eastern philosophical traditions, such as Tibetan Buddhism, and similar reports are also found in the literature of lucid dreaming. As part of her research, she collected new subjective reports of those experiences by carrying out phenomenological interviews. You can check out the results of those interviews here and here.
For her current postdoctoral work, Adriana is applying her previous research on sleep experiences to account for the similarities between sleep and waking phenomena. In particular, she is interested in studying how certain forms of daydreaming or fantasizing resemble the experience of dreaming during sleep. To that aim, she is examining episodes of “extreme” or very intense daydreaming reported in the literature; experiences of daydreaming that are said to be as realistic and vivid as some night dreams. Moreover, she is working on a new account of dreaming which conceptualizes dreams as mental imagery; perceptual experiences that arise in the absence of sensory input. Dreams, as well as the sort of imaginative experiences that characterize daydreaming, can sometimes resemble genuine cases of perception: cases in which I perceive an object that exists in the real world. What I perceive in the case of dreaming or imagining is not really out there, it is just in my mind’s eye. Thus, by considering dreams as cases of mental imagery, we can better account for the similarities between dream and daydream experiences as well as imaginative experiences. With her research, Adriana expects to understand better our relationship with our acts of imagining, and how they appear to us so real.
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