Some incredible new research is paving the way to literally record and play back your dreams - and lucid dreams - just like movies.
Though the technology is in its infancy, the concept has already been proven by similar fMRI studies. Now, scientists at the ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories in Kyoto have applied this system to dreamers' brains, marking the first step on the way to recording and replaying our dreams.
The Japanese study published in the the journal Science, called Neural Decoding of Visual Imagery During Sleep, reveals how scientists used a Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) machine to scan the brains of three volunteers as they started to enter the dreamstate.
"We focused on dream experience which can be detected just a few minutes after the sleep onset," explained researcher Yukiyasu Kamitani.
The researchers then woke the volunteers more than 200 times to ask them what they were dreaming about. As annoying as that may sound, their dream descriptions meant that specific dream imagery could be linked with specific patterns of brain activity.
That's because dream stimulus - just like waking stimulus - creates certain patterns of blood flow in specific areas of the brain. And it's highly consistent. So, if you raise your right arm in your dream, the same parts of the brain activate as when you raise your right arm while awake. This happens across a range of stimuli, whether you're listening to classical music or recalling a nasty smell.
The result? A primitive yet fully functional dream decoder, translating raw brain activity data into moving images representative of dreams. With increasingly more data, the translation will become increasingly more accurate and vivid.
The following video is a demonstration of this emerging technology. The images are a computer's interpretation of what the volunteer was dreaming about.
Now, here's the dreamer's description of what was really happening:
"What I was just looking at was some kind of characters. There was something like a writing paper for composing an essay, and I was looking at the characters from the essay or whatever it was..."
"In this field of dream decoding no-one has managed to successfully do this before," commented neuroscientist Jack Gallant. "If you could build the perfect dream decoder it would create a movie on your television screen and it would just replay your dreams."
While it may be a few more years until we can all play back our dreams in that fashion, the latest study is a landmark event that could one day see us directing blockbusters from our beds...
These days, fMRI research is all the rage when it comes to understanding the brain. A similar study last year led to this extraordinary reconstruction of visual imagery.
Scientists at UC Berkeley built up an extensive library of YouTube clips and trained their software to translate brain scan data into movies. The major difference was they were comparing fMRI scans with volunteers watching Hollywood movies (as opposed to dreaming). While they're both pursuing similar goals, the latest Japanese research is the first attempt to use fMRI to actually record and play back our dreams.
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On the surface, this seems like an odd question to ask. Everybody feels like they have their own free will - whether it's a big decision like choosing their life partner, or a minor call like whether to keep reading this article. But when you break down the neurological process of conscious decision making, there is a distinct lack of evidence for free will. Scientific theories on cause and effect - and philosophical theories about the self - frequently rule out any need for a conscious decision maker at all.
If you saw the Christmas edition of Charlie Brooker's awesome Black Mirror [spoiler alert] you would have watched Jon Hamm mentally and emotionally torture an innocent woman living inside an egg. Ok, back up a bit. She wasn't really a woman. She just thought she was. One week earlier, Hamm's technical team implanted a 'cookie' into a real woman's eyeball. The cookie was an artifically intelligent computer chip. And over the next seven days it learned the personal preferences, thoughts and emotions of its female host. It even took on her life's memories.
Dream herbs are used to induce lucid dreaming, which, most accurately is described as an awareness that you are dreaming to the point that you can control dreams. But, on a more basic level, dream herbs also seem to be linked to increased dream recall or simply an awareness that you are dreaming even if you cannot control the dream. Today I'm going to summarize the best dream herbs for lucidity - as well as where to buy the seeds, how to grow and cultivate them, and what effects that have on your dreams.
My dream life is pretty intense. It always has been. And over the years I've categorized my dreams into five broad types. Here's how to identify the nature of your dreams and how you can turn any of them into lucid dreams. Studies reveal that the average person daydreams for a whopping 70-120 minutes of their waking day. Daydreaming is an important part of dream research. As with all types of dreams, you enter a kind of hypnotic trance and allow your unconscious thoughts to rise to the surface.
I'm half-asleep in bed, aware of fleeting dream images behind my closed eyelids. I start saying "I'm dreaming" in my head and shape the hypnagogia into a view across a lake. I place every detail in my mind's eye: the stillness of the water, the distant trees on the horizon, the twilight of the sky. I imagine my whole body in this space and it soon "pops" into existence and becomes a lucid dream. I cement my lucidity and breathe in the night air. It is beautiful. I must be somewhere in Scandinavia and this gives me the idea to summon the auroras.
Experts agree that everyone is capable of having lucid dreams. Dreaming itself is a normal function of the mind. We all dream every night, even if we don't remember. And we all achieve conscious awareness while awake every single day. So what does it mean to combine these states? Why, the amazing ability to have conscious - or lucid - dreams. Sounds simple, doesn't it? So why do I keep hearing from people who say they can't achieve their first lucid dream?