Researchers working at MIT have successfully manipulated the content of a rat’s dream by replaying an audio cue that was associated with the previous day’s events, namely running through a maze (what else). The breakthrough furthers our understanding of how memory gets consolidated during sleep — but it also holds potential for the prospect of "dream engineering."
Working at MIT’s Picower Institute for Learning and Memory, neuroscientist Matt Wilson was able to accomplish this feat by exploiting the way the brain’s hippocampus encodes self-experienced events into memory. Scientists know that our hippocampus is busy at work replaying a number of the day’s events while we sleep — a process that’s crucial for memory consolidation. But what they did not know was whether or not these "replays" could be influenced by environmental cues.
To see if this could be done, Wilson and his team trained a group of rats to run through a maze using two distinct audio cues. The rats quickly learned that the tones were helpful; one sound indicated that food could be found by going left, while the other sound indicated that a food reward awaited them on the right. And while the rats were doing this, the neuroscientists were recording their neural activity.
Later, while the rats were sleeping, the researchers once again recorded the neural activity of their brains. Using correlative analysis, Wilson confirmed that the rats were dreaming of their maze navigating exploits from the day before.
But when the researchers played the audio cues from the experiment, they noticed a very interesting thing: the rats would dream about the section of the maze previously associated with the audio cue. The experiment demonstrated that the content of a rat’s dream can be biased by re-activating certain memories while they’re asleep.
Looking ahead, the researchers believe that this simple example of dream engineering could open up the possibility of more extensive control of memory processing during sleep — and even the notion that selected memories could be either enhanced, blocked, or modified. Wilson is also aiming to develop new approaches to learning and behavioral therapy through similar kinds of cognitive manipulation.
Breakthrough Could Enable Others to Watch Your Dreams and Memories (2011)
"The left clip is a segment of the movie that the subject viewed while in the magnet. The right clip shows the reconstruction of this movie from brain activity measured using fMRI. The reconstruction was obtained using only each subject’s brain activity and a library of 18 million seconds of random YouTube video. (In brief, the algorithm processes each of the 18 million clips through the brain model, and identifies the clips that would have produced brain activity as similar to the measured brain activity as possible. The clips used to fit the model, those used to test the model and those used to reconstruct the stimulus were entirely separate.) Brain activity was sampled every one second, and each one-second section of the viewed movie was reconstructed separately. "
'Spectre' Is Doomed: Did North Korea Kill James Bond? No, but Political Correctness will 2014-12-22 22:01 Comment: Below is an interesting article from Forbes on the fate of the Bond franchise. They asks: 'Spectre' Is Doomed: Did North Korea Kill James Bond?
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NYPD officer slayings: When the Left's False Narratives Have Deadly Consequences 2014-12-22 21:12
On Saturday afternoon, Black Brooklynite Ismaaiyl Brinsley ambushed two NYPD police officers and shot them both to death while they were sitting in their patrol car. According to early reports, there was “no warning” and “no provocation.” Brinsley simply approached the vehicle and “unloaded” on the two officers sitting inside. Hours before the assassination, he had announced his intent ...
Saudi oil chief: No conspiracy behind oil prices 2014-12-22 20:36 Nothing to see here or here
Saudi Arabia's oil chief on Sunday dismissed allegations that his kingdom conspired to bring down oil prices in order to harm other countries and told a summit of Arab energy leaders that he was confident the market would stabilize.
The kingdom, which is dependent on oil revenues, is able to weather lower oil prices due to ...
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The Left, The State And (Opportunistically As Always) Big Business 2014-12-22 18:04 Adapted from Paul Gottfried‘s address to the 2014 H.L. Mencken Club Conference, at a panel focused on “The Left and the State,“ following remarks made by Carl Horowitz of the National Legal and Policy Center and Keith Preston of Attack the System
I’d like to come back to a remark that Carl Horowitz made in Keith Preston described in his remarks, ...