Computers could read your dreams and even decode them very soon
to decode dreams soon
Can you imagine programming your own dream reader device before sleeping to record your dreams and playing them the next day on a screen as if it were a movie? It looks like a science fiction scene but neuroscientists are already working on it. Decoding dreams will be a reality in the near future and will help to better understand how our neurons communicate. Discover the scope of this new technology.
Neurons communicate through the exchange of electrical signals with different patterns. Reading and interpreting dreams have been one of the most recurrent obsessions of the human being throughout history. From the most basic tribal societies to the most complex cultures, we have always tried to decode dreams in different ways, sometimes associating them with divine messages or by trying to go deep into the complex interaction between the conscious and unconscious mind, as in the famous Theory of dreams by Sigmund Freud.
Now it seems that thanks to technology we are closer to deciphering the framework of meanings found in our dreams. Thanks to neuroscientist researches, we are closer to understanding the human brain through mental reading devices and decoding dreams do not seem so impossible. Discover how close we are to conquering Dreamland.
Neurons communication creating a dream reader
The communication between neurons is a starting point for neuroscientists. Neurons communicate through the exchange of electrical signals with different patterns. These patterns translate into different actions that can range from the movement of the body to the creation of thoughts and feelings.
In recent years, a team of neuroscientists of Pittsburgh University led by Andrew Schwartz has focused on developing a computer system for mind reading capable of capturing brain signals that influence the movement of muscles. Its intention is to help patients with motor impairments through robotic limbs capable of capturing neuronal signals.
The same scientists took a big step by implanting a sensor in a brain able to read and interpret the cerebral signals of a paralyzed patient. This allowed the patient to control the movement of a robotic arm.
The reading of thoughts and dreams seems to be close
According to Schwartz, the computer mind reading system must be refined to correctly predict brain signals. However, it can be the first step to going further into reading thoughts and even giving us the chance to communicate brain to the brain without talking!
The neuroscientist Brian Pasley of California Unversity has focused on understanding how the brain interprets words and sentences. In other words, what are the specific electrical patterns generated by neurons when they detect a language are. This depends on the sound of the voice and the words so that the brain can give them a meaning. To build a dream reader, neuroscientists must first map the electrical patterns of neurons to detect the stimulation they respond to.
Jack Gallant directs other efforts to understand neuronal communication and extract all its information. This scientist and his team have been working on understanding how the brain interprets images and films.
How do they do that? Gallant and his team used a magnet scanner called fMRI to measure the blood flow that feeds the neurons. After detecting where the biggest blood flow in the brain is according to its activity, the scanner sent all the information to build a computer model.
To continue with the experiment, Gallant and his team watched different movies for several hours, while the scanner registered their brain activity.
With the information gathered, the computer had to decipher what movies each participant watched based on their brain activity. Although the computer came up with blurry images, they were incredibly similar to the scenes from the movies they watched during the experiment.
Something similar happens with dreams. At the University of Kyoto, Japan, the neuroscientist Yukiyasu Kamitani has also used the fMRI scanner to try to decipher dreams.
Yukiyasu and his team worked with three volunteers who were asked to sleep while the scanner monitored their sleeping. The volunteers were awakened suddenly to describe the last dream they had.
After registering 200 dream testimonies, the team collected photos and illustrations of the objects that the volunteers described as part of their dreams. The same volunteers underwent the scanner test again, but this time they were asked to look at the photos of the objects they had described in their dreams.
Then, the scientists matched each image with the corresponding brain reaction of the volunteer to build a computer model to link these patterns. Later they applied the data collected from the fMRI to the computer model to discover if the computer could decipher what objects had been presented in the volunteers' dreams.
Incredibly, the computer recognized the objects present in 60 percent of the dreams. This gave scientists the certainty that the brain reacts with very similar patterns when it sees an object consciously and when it dreams of it.
This experiment and its positive result opened the door for a future dream reader device that will be able to decipher the dreams and even record them. In fact, you would be able to watch your dreams again in a video player just like you do with movies.
Creepy or interesting? Are you ready to watch your dreams including those nightmares? I think some of us would rather skip it.