Japanese researchers discover ways to determine content of dreams

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Team of Japanese researchers has discovered a way to determine what thoughts are going through a mind of the person when they are sleeping. Yukiyasu Ka...

Team of Japanese researchers has discovered a way to determine what thoughts are going through a mind of the person when they are sleeping.

Yukiyasu Kamitani, a member of the ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories in Kyoto, and the colleagues recruited three male volunteers and monitored them while they were sleeping using electroencephalography to record their brain waves and studied the results in search of changes in activities that could be related to the content of their dreams.

The researchers detected changes in the brain waves of the subject, a sign they had started dreaming and woke them up and asked them as to what they were dreaming about.

Later, the subjects were then asked to return to sleep and the process was repeated between 7 to 10 times per day, in three-hour blocks for each participant.  

The researchers also found that some dreams were out of ordinary, like for example a discussion with famous actor mostly involved more mundane experiences from everyday life.

 The participants were then asked to view the images while their brains were scanned a second time.  By comparing the second set of brain activity data with the recordings made just before the volunteers had been woken up, the researchers were able to identify the distinctive patterns in three key brain regions which helps the process what the eyes see. They also found activity in other brain regions with more specialized roles in visual processing.   

University of California, Berkeley, neuroscientist Jack Gallant said, “This is an interesting and exciting piece of work. It suggests that dreaming involves some of the same higher level visual brain areas that are involved in visual imagery.”  He also added, “It also seems to suggest that our recall of dreams is based on short-term memory, because decoding was most accurate in the tens of seconds before waking.”

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