Dreams Imaged, Scientists Claim

By | December 12, 2008

Dreams 2Japanese researchers say they’ve imaged thoughts and dreams and displayed them on a computer screen. At the web site of the journal Neuron where the findings are to be published the researchers summarize their work “The results suggest that our approach provides an effective means to read out complex perceptual states from brain activity.” Brain imaging is nothing new. And the images are reportedly very simple but the researchers claim the technique could lead to the ability to unlock the secrets of dreams. “By applying this technology it may become possible to record and replay subjective images that people perceive like dreams ” the scientists are quoted as saying in The Telegraph of London. In one experiment test subjects were shown the six letters of the word “neuron ” and the subsequent brain activity was used to reconstruct the letters on a screen. Scientists mostly agree that dreaming happens during the phase called Rapid Eye Movement REM . Some researchers think you dream about tasks and emotions that were not dealt with fully and that dreaming can help solidify thoughts and memories. Even animals dream. And some people think they can control their dreams. The jury is still out on that but studies show that some dreamers can communicate with researchers during a dream.

via Dreams Imaged, Scientists Claim | LiveScience.

Lucid dreaming is a favorite topic of mine, although it has been years since I’ve had one.

There is no doubt that people can be conscious (lucid) in dreams and can carry out pre-agreed upon tasks. One researcher at Stanford proved this when he signalled his name in Morse Code while electrodes showed he was in REM sleep. (And this was what he pre-planned to do before going to sleep in the lab.) When you move while asleep, your brain sends signals to  your limbs, followed quickly by a suppression signal. You are immobilized in this way during dreams, but the signals you send can still be read by equipment. This is how they measured the Morse Code.

… It was not until the 1980’s that the scientific community gave a little credence to Lucid Dreams, mainly due to the efforts of Stephen LaBerge. He devised methods of increasing his incidents of Lucid Dreams with the MILD technique (mnemonic induction of lucid dreams), gaining a 400% increase. Later he devised a method of signalling back when he was in the middle of a Lucid Dream, using bio-feedback equipment to trace vertical eye sweeps. He even managed to send back his initials via an electromyograph…an instrument which measures muscular activity. He sent the message with morse code, tightening his left hand equalled a dot, and tightening the right equalled a dash. … – dol

Interesting research.  It would be great fun to be able to record and play back dreams, but I think that feat is still many years away.

One thought on “Dreams Imaged, Scientists Claim

  1. marjoriekaye

    Fascinating research. I work with Daniel Oldis, who does research on dreams, particularly lucid dreaming. Among Daniel’s dream projects is experimenting with the Oculus Rift to see how if might affect dreaming. A great collection of dream articles. Thanks!

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