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Scientists read dreams with brain scan

For the first time, scientists have managed to read the content of someone's dreams by using brain scans. The research team believes the discovery will lead to a better understanding of dreams

Researchers at the ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories in Kyoto have been using brain scans to analyze the neurological activities of volunteers during a sleep study. The research team is now able to predict, with reasonable accuracy, what a person was dreaming about, based on the brain activity observed in the scans.

The study was performed on participants just as they began dreaming. They were woken almost immediately and asked about the first thing they saw in the dream. The team assigned the brain activity to the object the volunteers saw and grouped the brain scans in broad categorical databases: Everyone who saw a vehicle for example, whether a car or a bus, would be grouped into a common category. The process was repeated up to 200 times for each participant.


Nobody looks this good when they're asleep.


The collected data was then used as a basis for interpreting brain scans of other people. With an accuracy of around 60%, which is hardly strong, but still noteworthy, the team was able to predict what someone was dreaming. "We were able to reveal dream content from brain activity during sleep, which was consistent with the subjects' verbal reports,” explains Professor Kamitani, one of the researchers, “I had a strong belief that dream decoding should be possible at least for particular aspects of dreaming… I was not very surprised by the results, but excited."


At this point, the study has only attempted to decode light dreaming, but hopes to refocus on the more vivid dreams we encounter during deep sleep.

David F.
A grad student in experimental physics, David is fascinated by science, space and technology. When not buried in lecture books, he enjoys movies, gaming and mountainbiking

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