Device that reads and interprets your dreams may soon be a reality

Thursday, October 28, 2010

LONDON - A US researcher has claimed that the day may not be far when it would be possible to read people’s dreams and interpret them.

The aim is not to interlope, but to extend our understanding of how and why people dream.

“It would be wonderful to read people’s minds” the BBC quoted Dr Moran Cerf UCLA as saying.

The aim of Cerf’s project is to develop a system, which would enable psychologists to corroborate people’s recollections of their dream with an electronic visualisation of their brain activity.

Cerf suggested that the activity of individual brain cells, or neurons, are associated with specific objects or concepts.

For instance, in his study he found that when a volunteer was thinking of Marilyn Monroe, a particular neuron lit up.

Cerf and his colleagues were able to identify neurons for a wide range of objects and concepts - which they used to build up a database for each patient. These included Bill and Hilary Clinton, the Eiffel Tower and celebrities.

So by observing which brain cell lit up and when, Cerf said he was effectively able to “read the subjects’ minds”.

He added that it would take some time before this simple observation can be translated into a device to record dreams, or dream catcher, but that it’s possible.

However, Dr Roderick Oner, a clinical psychologist and dream expert, believes that while this kind of limited visualisation might be of academic interest - it will not really help in the interpretation of dreams or be of use in therapy.

“For that you need the entire complex dream narrative,” he said.

Another difficulty with the technique is that to get the kind of resolution needed to monitor individual neurons, subjects had to have electrodes surgically implanted deep inside their brain.

But Cerf is optimistic about the implications.

“For example, instead of just having to write an email you could just think it. Or another futuristic application would be to think a flow of information and have it written in front of your eyes,” he said.

The study is published in Nature. (ANI)

Filed under: Science and Technology

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