Previously published in Examiner
In the past the only way to interpret dreams was to seek the help of a psychologist or buy a dream interpretation book. According to Wired published today, scientists report for the first time that they’ve successfully decoded details of people’s dreams using brain scans.” It is important to note that the scientist had volunteered subjects and decoded the dreams after the fact. They were not decoded while the subject was actually dreaming.
The research is still impressive an advancement in science. Wired goes on to say, “This work is yet another impressive step for researchers interested in decoding mental states from brain activity, and it opens the door to a new way of studying dreaming, one of the most mysterious and fascinating aspects of the human experience.”
“Neuroscientist Yukiyasu Kamitani and colleagues at the Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International in Kyoto, Japan monitored three young men as they tried to get some sleep inside an fMRI scanner while the machine monitored their brain activity. The researchers also monitored each volunteer’s brain activity with EEG electrodes, and when they saw an EEG signature indicative of dreaming, they woke him up to ask what he’d been dreaming about. Technically speaking, this is what researchers call “hypnagogic imagery,” which is the dream-like state that occurs as people fall asleep.”
“The research team developed an image decoder for the experiment “based on machine learning algorithms. They trained the decoder to classify patterns of brain activity recorded from the same three men while they were awake and watching a video montage of hundreds of images selected from several online databases.” That way they could differentiate the brain signals and patterns.
The work is very primitive the researchers admit; but, it brings us a step closer to finding what we are actually dreaming and what we understand or remember of the dream when we wake up.
My experience with dreams and decoding dreams
As a therapist one of my interests is dream interpretation. The mind in general is very fascinating for me but to study dreams interested me from the days of my youth when I would rush to the bookstore to get as many dream interpretation books as I could find. I wanted to know what my dreams meant and so did my friends who would want me to interpret their dreams as well. I was very popular when I interpreted their dreams for them and not the shy fat girl which had long been my moniker.
My fascination with dreams advanced when I took my very first psychology course in Dawson College and I found out about the psychoanalysts such as Freud and Jung who interpreted the dreams of their patients. We all know that these psychologists viewed dreams as the workings of the unconscious mind. Later on in university I learned other theories such as the biological need for dreaming and so on. The subject is so vast that I have written an entire series on sleep and dreams.
Now 30 years later, I still have a passion for understanding the workings of the human mind and for dreams in particular. I read everything I can on the subject. I will also continue to write about the new information on dream interpretation as it comes about.
Much has been written about brain waves and the machines which monitor them. However, no one to this date has ever been able to decode the actual dreams. I think this new research is wonderful and will lead to a better understanding of dreams and how they work.
I believe with the advancement of new and more refined dream decoders, dream interpretation may one day shift from human psychological interpretations to science developed decoding machines. Or, maybe the best interpretation will be a combination of both these methods. Only time will tell.