Select your localized edition:

Close ×

More Ways to Connect

Discover one of our 28 local entrepreneurial communities »

Be the first to know as we launch in new countries and markets around the globe.

Interested in bringing MIT Technology Review to your local market?

MIT Technology ReviewMIT Technology Review - logo

 

Unsupported browser: Your browser does not meet modern web standards. See how it scores »

MRI scans of a sleeping person’s brain can help predict what’s seen in the land of Nod.

Researchers in Japan report in the journal Science on Thursday that they could predict images with 60 percent accuracy. First, they watched three subjects as they fell asleep and woke them in early sleep stages to ask them what they saw in their dreams. From those reports, the researchers built a database that grouped together the things the subjects saw in their dreams (e.g. “house” and “hotel” were grouped into a ”building” category). Later, when the volunteers were awake, the researchers showed them photos that matched these categories while recording their brain activity with MRI.

The researchers next built a computer model that linked patterns of brain activity to different types of images. This model was able to predict what kinds of images the subjects saw in their dreams in subsequent naps at a rate slightly higher than would be expected by chance.

According to the BBC, University of Oxford cognitive neuroscientist Mark Stokes says that the work brings us closer to creating dream-reading machines, although such devices are still something for the distant future. Stokes told the BBC that such machines would have to be customized for each individual, so it would be unlikely that your dreams could be read surreptitiously: 

“You would never be able build a general classifier that could read anybody’s dreams. They will all be idiosyncratic to the individual, so the brain activity will never be general across subjects,” he said.

“You would never be able to build something that could read other peoples thoughts without them knowing about it, for example.”

5 comments. Share your thoughts »

Tagged: Biomedicine, MRI

Reprints and Permissions | Send feedback to the editor

From the Archives

Close

Introducing MIT Technology Review Insider.

Already a Magazine subscriber?

You're automatically an Insider. It's easy to activate or upgrade your account.

Activate Your Account

Become an Insider

It's the new way to subscribe. Get even more of the tech news, research, and discoveries you crave.

Sign Up

Learn More

Find out why MIT Technology Review Insider is for you and explore your options.

Show Me
×

A Place of Inspiration

Understand the technologies that are changing business and driving the new global economy.

September 23-25, 2014
Register »