Japanese Dream Machine Can Visualize Your Dreams With 50 Percent Accuracy
April 7, 2013 8:06 AM
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fMRI based study could eventually lead to tools to record dreams either therapeutically or recreationally
FMRIs -- scans which measure brain activity based on blood flow -- have shown
promise in "mind reading"
that conscious individuals were thinking of. A Japanese team has taken that premise and expanded it in an exciting direction, creating an fMRI-based method to record the images seen while dreaming with 50 percent accuracy.
I. Storing Dream Images
The study was performed at the
ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories
, in cooperation with the
Nara Institute of Science and Technology
National Institute of Information and Communications Technology
. The senior author was
Professor Yukiyasu Kamitani
, a neurology and informatics professor at the Nara Institute and
University of Electro-Communications
. Other co-authors include
, Nara Institute associate professor
, and first author
, a Nara Institute Ph.D. student.
Professor Kamitani told
on the work, "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."
A new Japanese study uses fMRI scans to record images seen while dreaming.
[Image Source: SPL]
The study involved three volunteers, who were put inside fMRI scanners. When the subjects started to fall asleep, they were woken up and asked to recall what the last thing they remembered seeing was. Images were often surreal, ranging from bronze statues to ice picks; other times they were every-day items.
After over 200 trials per volunteer, the researchers had a database of scans and images. They then grouped the images into common categories. Houses, apartments, skyscrapers, hotels, and stores, for example were classified as "structures".
II. Predicting, Recording the Dreams
The researchers then showed the volunteers pictures of the selected categories and recorded their activity via fMRI. What they found was that the wakeful visual activity in the brain often closely corresponded to the dreaming activity.
In a second round of tests, researchers matched fMRI scans of sleeping patients with their new database of dream image categories and then woke the patients up, asking them what they saw. They were able to correctly guess the dream object 60 percent of the time.
The team's dream database can predict dream images correctly 60 percent of the time.
[Image Source: Science/ATR]
With work ongoing to
and with personalized databases of fMRI images, this technique could eventually be put to use to create a "dream recorder". Such a machine would have both therapeutic and recreational promise. Much work would need to be done in order to personalize the recorded images -- say to show not just that you saw a man, but that you saw your father.
However, the work by the ATR team opens an exciting new era in fMRI "mind reading" -- dream reading. A study on the work has been
[abstract] in the prestigious peer-reviewed journal
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4/7/2013 12:40:47 PM
When you sleep, it's been found in rodent studies that the brain will reactivate in a similar order the neurons you used while you were awake to do important tasks or process important information. For example, the location responsive neurons tracked while a rat is running a maze will reactive in the same procession while a rodent is asleep, as if it were running the maze again. It's probably part of memory consolidation, or the system playing "safetly" (since it's decoupled from your motor system while you sleep) with different pathways.
This study -trained- its subjects brains on a set of images, and then recorded the same areas of the brain being active while they slept. In short.. this study kinda cheated. They were guaranteed their study participants would likely be evaluating that information in their sleep, and so it was more a test of the detection equipment than "listening in on sleep".
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