Dreams read by brain scanner for the first time

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uMonk
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Dreams read by brain scanner for the first time

Post by uMonk » November 2nd, 2011, 6:16 am

I heard about this type of thing a while back, sounds interesting. - http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn2 ... -time.html
The secret world of dreams could soon be cracked open. Innovative neuroscientists have already begun to figure out the thoughts of awake people – now, a team reckon they can use similar methods to tap into dreams.

To find out whether dreams could be read in the same way as waking thoughts, Michael Czisch and Martin Dresler at the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry in Munich, Germany, and their colleagues turned an array of brain-monitoring technology on lucid dreamers.

"A lucid dream is simply a dream in which you realise you're dreaming," says Dresler. The rare ability to "wake up" while still in a dream and be in control of their actions – and their dreams – makes lucid dreamers a real asset to dream researchers: they are the only people who can reliably, and in real time, communicate what they are dreaming about – usually with eye movements.

After tracking down six individuals who claimed to be able to have lucid dreams almost nightly, the team used both functional MRI scanning and near-infrared spectroscopy to observe each person's brain activity as they clenched a hand while awake. They then compared this with the activity associated with imagining clenching the same hand, and clenching the hand in a lucid dream.

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Dream machines

Unsurprisingly, it was not straightforward to know when the volunteers were dreaming that they were clenching a hand. The group used a combination of monitoring methods collectively known as polysomnography to check whether the participants were in the rapid eye movement (REM) state of sleep, in which we tend to have most of our dreams. This involved measuring brain activity, tracking eye movements and monitoring the chin muscles, which are paralysed during REM sleep.

At the same time, the team monitored the brain activity of the dreamers using functional MRI scanning or near-infrared spectroscopy by turns. Both techniques show which areas of the brain are active by measuring oxygenated blood.

To let the researchers know when they had entered a lucid dream and were intentionally clenching a hand in the dream, each participant was instructed to move their eyes from left to right an agreed number of times. Even when dreaming that they were clenching their hand, the lucid dreamers did not clench their hand in reality.

Sleep breakers

The experiment still proved difficult. "The participants have to fall asleep in a scanner, reach REM sleep and enter a lucid dream stable enough for data acquisition," says Czisch. As a result, the team only managed to fully investigate two dreams experienced by different dreamers.

In both cases, the team were able to spot dreaming brain activity associated with hand clenching, which proved to be very similar to that seen when imagining hand-clenching. Real hand-clenching showed a like style of activity, but with a greater area of activation. "This is a proof-of-concept study, and provides the first evidence that it may be possible to use brain imaging to read the contents of a person's dream," says Czisch.

Daniel Erlacher at the University of Bern in Switzerland, who describes the study as "a brilliant piece of work", agrees. "If you can get a detailed reading of brain functions and know what each represents, you can read dreams."

Journal reference: Current Biology, DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2011.09.029

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Dreams read by brain scanner for the first time

Post by Xenriath » November 9th, 2011, 4:10 am

It would be nice to see this get somewhere. Imagine being able to record your dreams and watch them later haha xD
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Dreams read by brain scanner for the first time

Post by Jettins \o/ » November 9th, 2011, 10:27 pm

and provides the first evidence that it may be possible to use brain imaging to read the contents of a person's dream," says Czisch.
I think these scientist will eventually conclude that subjective experience (as perceived by an individual), can only be mapped as a probability of it.

Its interesting, but you have to be skeptical about these articles, It could always be scientists stretching conclusions in an attempt to look for funding. Not unexpected ;)
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Dreams read by brain scanner for the first time

Post by avalinah » December 21st, 2011, 3:38 am

i have never heard of a lucid dreamer that can control his real body while still in the dream (i mean to move your eyes in the direction you want to move them in). can you even do that..?
well. at least i can't xD not to say that other crazy super awesome LDers can't but.. i don't know, wouldn't that force you to wake up? :p

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Dreams read by brain scanner for the first time

Post by Summerlander » December 21st, 2011, 10:11 pm

Avalinah, have you ever heard of Stephen LaBerge? He was the one that proved that lucid dreams happen at a time when science frowned upon them. How did he prove it? By demonstrating that lucid dreamers can signal to people in the real world from the dream. How do they do it? They signalled with their eyes by performing certain movements to indicate when they were lucid.

If you move your eyes in a dream purposely, the movement of your physical eyes become more determined and match what you are doing in the dream. The rest of the body doesn't move due to muscle atonia (which is natural and is there to prevent dreamers from acting out their dreams and harming themselves.

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Dreams read by brain scanner for the first time

Post by avalinah » December 22nd, 2011, 5:44 am

yeah, sure i know LaBerge, but i didn't know this about the eyes. one must be very experienced though, probably. if i do something about my eyes in the dream (worst case - i blink) then i just.. wake up or lose the dream, it's that horrible. must be that that's the only link to the real body and it's easy for me to break it since i'm inexperienced. so i just couldn't imagine this at all :P

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Dreams read by brain scanner for the first time

Post by Jettins \o/ » February 10th, 2012, 12:57 pm

i mean to move your eyes in the direction you want to move them in
I've thought about this, but it would be difficult for me to show this unless I have an EEG to show that I am dreaming, and a night vision camera to record the eye movement (among other things in the setup). It would be a nice thing to personally try. Maybe one day.

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