Published: Saturday, April 6, 2013

The dream catcher!

Japan scientists claim they can 'read' dreams

The dream catcher!

Scientists in Japan yesterday said they had found a way to “read” people’s dreams, using MRI scanners to unlock some of the secrets of the unconscious mind.
Researchers have managed what they said was “the world’s first decoding” of night-time visions, the subject of centuries of speculation that have captivated humanity since ancient times.
They claim their invention, the ‘dream catcher’ is 60 per cent accurate.
The level of detail is still far from that in the Leonardo DiCaprio film Inception, in which people manipulate people’s dreams and steal their sleeping thoughts.
However, experts have described the work, detailed in the respected journal Science, as ‘stunning’.
In the study, published in the journal Science, researchers at the ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories, in Kyoto, western Japan began by scanning the brains of three volunteers as they slept in an MRI machine.
Every six or seven minutes, they were prodded awake and asked to describe any dream they’d been having. The process was repeated until each participant had recounted at least 200 dreams.
These answers were compared with the brain maps that had been produced by the MRI scanner, the researchers said, adding that they later built a database, based on the results.
On subsequent attempts they were able to predict what images the volunteers had seen with a 60 percent accuracy rate, rising to more than 70 percent with around 15 specific items including men, words and books, they said.
This is far higher than would occur due to chance alone, says researcher Yukiyasu Kamitani, of ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories in Kyoto.
Some neuroscientists said that the volunteers were sleeping so lightly during the study that they weren’t technically dreaming.
But the researchers believe that the dreaming of deep sleep may be very similar.