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My research

Intensified forms of mental imagery: from daydreaming to dreaming

In my current postdoctoral research, I am developing a new ontological framework of dreaming as a type of mental imagery—a perceptual experience arising in the absence of sensory input and processing. I argue that classifying dreams in this way offers a more accurate picture of the nature of dreaming, resolving an ongoing debate in philosophy regarding whether dreams are more like imaginative experiences or hallucinations. My current work serves as the initial step in a broader project that will position dreams within other related experiences, like daydreaming.


PhD research

My PhD investigated the nature of minimal forms of consciousness during sleep. Specifically, it focused on examining the state of “witnessing-sleep”, an experience widely reported by Indo-Tibetan Buddhist traditions as an instance of “just awareness”. I argued that these sorts of experiences belong to a wider range of sleep states, experiences that appear to us as “objectless”, yet they might still contain some conscious content. My PhD research implemented a novel approach to the study of these sorts of states that combined empirical work with philosophical conceptual analysis. The result was the first interdisciplinary scholarly piece in the field providing a nuanced examination of the various ways in which conscious states during sleep might be experienced as lacking content or be about “nothing”.

Conceptual work

Some questions that I asked in my thesis are the following: How should we better describe the experience of witnessing-sleep? Are those a type of dream experience or a sui generis type of experience? And how should they be situated within other sleep phenomena?

I have addressed some of those questions in here . I have considered a recent proposal which conceives certain instances of witnessing-sleep as an experience of "lucidity" akin to "lucid dreaming". I have argued that, if we want to conceptualise such experiences as instances of objectless sleep awareness, a different notion of lucidity is needed.

I am also developing a new theoretical model aiming at situating experiences like witnessing-sleep within other spontaneous experiences across sleep and waking.

Empirical work

As part of my PhD, I collected and analysed reports of differents forms of conscious awareness during sleep that depart from ordinary dreaming, including some states that are described by their experiencer as "objectless" or "contentless". You can find some of those reports, and an analysis of their phenomenological features here and here.

Other projects