Japanese scientists have created a device enabling images of thoughts and dreams to appear on a computer screen. The discovery paves the way for the ability to unlock people's dreams and other brain processes, according to an article in the Telegraph of London.
To me, it’s clearly a case of life imitating art. One of the most unforgettable movies I’ve seen is the lengthy and obscure 1991 film “Until the End of the World” from German director Wim Wenders. In it, a man invents a device for recording brain impulses so he can record and then replay images for his blind wife. However the device also has the ability to depict dream images.
According to the Wikipedia entry on the film:
Several of the central characters become addicted to viewing the playback of their own dreams, while Claire's (a main character’s) estranged lover, a novelist, remains unaffected while he works on a novel about the adventure. It is this novel, ultimately, that rescues Claire from the throes of her addiction via the power of words.
The potential addictive qualities of viewing images from one’s own dreams might be worth remembering as the real-life device is perfected.
First Time for Dreams
Back to the real device in Japan.
"It was the first time in the world that it was possible to visualize what people see directly from the brain activity,” according to a spokesman at ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories in Tokyo. "By applying this technology, it may become possible to record and replay subjective images that people perceive like dreams."
The scientists focused on the image recognition procedures in the retina of the human eye. It is while looking at an object that the eye's retina is able to recognise an image, which is subsequently converted into electrical signals sent into the brain's visual cortex.
The “Neuron” Experiment
The research investigated how electrical signals are captured and reconstructed into images, according to the study, which will be published in the US journal Neuron. As part of the experiment, researchers showed testers the six letters of the word "neuron", before using the technology to measure their brain activity and subsequently reconstruct the letters on a computer screen.
Since Sigmund Freud published The Interpretations of Dreams over a century ago, the workings of the sleeping human mind have been the source of extensive analysis by scientists keen to unlock its mysteries. Dreams were the focus of a scientific survey conducted by the Telegraph last year in which it was concluded that dreams were more likely to be shaped by events of the past week than childhood traumas, according to the Telegraph article.
Click here for the Telegraph of London article.