Scientists able to “see” into dreams
A breakthrough study from Japan has uncovered a way to ‘see’ images within dreams. The study, published in the journal Science, used functional MRI (fMRI) imaging to interpret and reveal the image content of what people were dreaming.
FMRIs differ from normal MRIs because they are able to observe the way the brain works during the scan period. A normal MRI can provide only a still snapshot of the brain in one moment. FMRIs, on the other hand, can monitor changes in the brain in real time and glean a better idea of how the brain functions during a set period of time.
For the study, researchers first used fMRI imaging to record the brain activity of study participants while they viewed pictures of cars, streets and other everyday objects while they were awake.
Then the participants were asked to sleep inside an fMRI machine so that their brain patters could be monitored during light sleep. While the participants were asleep, researchers used the brain patterns they observed while the people were awake to predict what the participants saw while they were dreaming. When they woke up, the participants were asked to describe what they saw in their dreams. After 200 awakenings, researchers found that they predicted what the sleepers saw in their dreams about 60 percent of the time.
The study shows that the many parts of the brain work in the same way whether we are asleep or not.