Decoding Dreams by Brain Scan

Certain times we dream about something, but we forget it once we get up. Dreams have always fascinated scientists and psychologists. What we dream of often stays a mystery as we forget 90 percent of what we dream about. There are various theories surrounding the concept of dreaming.

Scientists state that we only dream about things that our brains know about in our lives. We cannot dream about something which our mind is unaware of, for example, people, places, or situations. Some theories say that we can dream about the past only.

Moreover, we dream about our urges, desires, and wishes. Meanwhile, technological advancements have allowed for the development to decipher other theories of dreams. Researchers are decoding dreams by brain scans.

Theories surrounding our Dreams

The amalgamation of what we have witnessed in the previous days is what we see while dreaming. Our brain passes many pieces of information while we sleep. Dreaming can decide what to remember and what to forget.

The science behind dreaming has still a mystery and without any proper explanation. Scientists have given numerous theories for why we drift off into a dream world.

Furthermore, our emotions also linked to our dreams. When we feel happy, we see a positive vision, and during stressful days, we have a nightmare, and so on. When we fall asleep, our brain stops thinking with consciousness and thus our emotions come to the fore.

brain scan dreams

With many theories on board, the approach above all is the dream theory of Sigmund Freud. The Austrian neurologist’s arguments are based on the idea of repressed longing.

It explains that dreams are about the desires that we aren’t able to express in a social setting. Our goals make our unconscious mind think about our unacceptable thoughts and desires. His studies also discuss primarily sexual desires.

More recently, around 1973, two researchers Allan Hobson and Robert McCarley, threw another theory about dreams. Further, their theory relates to old psychoanalytical ideas. Their research stated that we dream during sleeping because while sleeping, our brain sends random electrical brain impulses. These impulses pull imaginary traces from our experience stored in the memory.

Deciphering dream with brain scanning

Access to technology granted us to discover new methods to conquer our thoughts while sleeping. An electroencephalogram (EEG) is a diagnosis for evaluation of the electrical activity in our brain.

Previously, dreams remained a secret of our minds. But with new technology, scientists can read what our brain dreams. For the first time, dreams can be decoded by scanning our brains.

The study conducted by Yukiyasu Kamitani and colleagues in the Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International in Kyoto, Japan. Firstly, they monitored three men during their sleep inside the MRI scanner, and the machine monitored their activities of the brain.

The researchers observed each volunteer’s brain activity with the help of EEG electrodes. Further, they started studying the types of imaginary. For the accuracy of the experiment, they woke up each volunteer at least 200 times during several days of observation. 

brain scanning to know dreams

Secondly, they developed visual imagery decipher on machine learning algorithms. The team trained the decoders for classifying patterns of brain activity observed from the three men.

After the decoder for each person prepared, the researchers inputted a design of brain activity. Further, they made the decoders predict the design of the brain activities.

Our dream decoding is still very primitive,” Yukiyasu Kamitani said. “Decoding color, action, or emotion is also still beyond the scope of the technology.

Yukiyasu Kamitani

Yukiyasu Kamitani

He further stated, “One theory states that dreaming is for strengthening memory, but another theory states dreaming is for forgetting, we could record the frequency of decoded dream contents for each memory item and see the correlation between the frequency and the memory performance.

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