Monday, February 18, 2013

Brave New World is becoming our new world

In 1932, Aldous Huxley published Brave New World in which he creates the world he believes we will live in one day. There are no ethics or distinction between people and the differences that do exist are controlled by "superiors" in laboratories. The class and personality of an individual is determined by the "Alphas" manipulating their test tube. Much of the regulation and conditioning of human behavior in the novel is by a method called "hypnopaedia". Huxley was the first to make the word public and within twenty years, in Brave New World Revisted, his introduction of "hypnopaedia" generated the interest of researchers and so began the tests of whether sleep learning was possible.

While I understand we are supposed to find the most accurate and original article, I found Michael Klein (University of Chicago) to have an interesting paper, summarizing many of the studies conducted after Huxley's suggestion of sleep learning. What is truly bizarre is that through five studies conducted over a period of nearly five decades, is that a high percentage of test subjects that were a part of hypnopaedia experiments, actually did learn in their sleep and were able to translate sets of words that they previously had no exposure to. Though Simon and Emmons' results concluded that this method of teaching is impossible, several other studies found that the test subjects were on average, answering 80 percent of their translations or questions correctly. Though the experiments conducted were suggesting that hypnopaedia may be an effective way of utilizing sleep to learn, Huxley also commented that to actually learn and retain information is not as effective as changing the energy and attitudes of individuals in their sleep. He referenced a study in prisons, in which prisoners' quality of life and perspective was increasingly positive and hopeful, when playing stimuli words underneath their pillows at night.

Will we even need to wake up and come to psychology class in the future? Or will our professors give us recordings to play at night?

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