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Japanese Scientists Create Computer Algorithm that Can Decode Dreams

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Have you ever gotten the feeling that you had a dream last night but couldn't remember it exactly? Well, apparently some Japanese researchers are curious about this phenomenon and have even gone so far as to develop a computer that may be able to recall forgotten dream images using brain waves.

The study, published online in the journal Science, looked at three volunteers and placed them in a functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine capable of tracking blood flow to their brains, which is a sign of neurons at work. The volunteers were also hooked up to a electroencephalograph machine, which record the electrical activity of those neurons. While the volunteers were entering the early stage of dreaming called hypnagogic hallucination, they were woken up about every six minutes to report what "they saw" in their dreams. The researchers focused on nouns and categorized these into different generic groupings.

The amazing part comes in when the a computer algorithm was then used to "decode" the dream images by finding links between brain activity patterns and specific images. The computers learned to decode the dreams with about 60% accuracy, and as high as 75% accuracy for some iamges. The new research is a unique step in the direction of understanding the complex dream world of the mind, and the link between the awake and dreaming states. The researchers also add that the computer interpreter included some "errors" in their guesses, which could actually represent details of the volunteers' dreams that the volunteers themselves were not able to recall, suggesting that the computer was better able to know the volunteers' minds than the volunteers were able.