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Can Brain Scans Decode our Dreams?

Can Brain Scans Decode our Dreams?

How more creepy, exciting, and interesting would our lives be if others could read our dreams? Yet another piece of science fiction is becoming fact as Japanese researchers have found a way to “see” the images that people see while they’re sleeping by way of MRI scans.

Even cooler is that these scientists claim that they can read the images a sleeping brain sees with an accuracy of up to 60 percent.

The new study comes from the ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories in Kyoto, where researchers are beginning to believe that decoding the images seen and emotions felt in dreams is becoming an increasingly real possibility.

Would you volunteer for a study like this?

Three volunteers elected to fall asleep inside MRI scanners and have their dreams “read.” Just as the subjects began drifting off to sleep, they were woken up and then asked to describe what they had seen in their dreams. Each and every image they saw was recorded, not matter how bizarre. Each of the three participants underwent this process over 200 times.

Their recordings were used to build a database in which objects were grouped into similar visual categories. For example, houses, hotels, and buildings were filed under the “structures” category.

The subjects were then monitored while they were awake and looking at those images on a screen. Researchers were then able to correlate their specific brain activity patterns with the related visual imagery.

In subsequent brain scans, the scientists were able to understand what the volunteers were dreaming about by comparing their brain activities, which were consistent with the subjects’ responses.

Scientists are gearing up to go deeper

As of right now we’ve only been able to decode dreams during light sleep. Scientists now intend to go even deeper down the rabbit hole to investigate the dreams of deep sleep, in which the most vivid dreams are thought to occur. They want to be able to decode what emotions people are feeling, what actions they’re taking, what colours they’re seeing, what sounds they’re hearing, and what smells they’re sensing.

Hold on a minute. This is getting scary.

Don’t freak out just yet. Scientists estimate that this single system of dream reading won’t work for everyone. Accurate dream reading in theory could only be accomplished on a case-by-case basis. A general dream-classifying database able to read anyone’s dreams would never work, as brain activity is not general across subjects. So don’t worry, no one can read your thoughts without you knowing about it. Yet.

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