Scientists think it will be possible to record people’s dreams and then interpret them, according to a new report.
They claim to have developed a system which allows them to record higher level brain activity.
Dr Moran Cerf told the journal Nature: “We would like to read people’s dreams.”
Previously the only way to access people’s dreams is for psychologists to ask about them after the event and try to interpret them.
Dr Cerf hopes to eventually compare people’s memories of their dreams with an electronic visualisation of their brain activity.
He told the BBC: “There’s no clear answer as to why humans dream. And one of the questions we would like to answer is when do we actually create this dream?”
The scientist believes his latest research shows that certain neurons or individual brain cells are linked with specific objects or concepts.
He found that a particular neuron lit up when a volunteer thought about Marilyn Monroe.
If a database was built up identifying various neurons with concepts, objects and people it would allow them to “read the subject’s minds”, according to Dr Cerf.
However, Dr Roderick Oner, a clinical psychologist and dream expert, said that this kind of visualisation would be of limited help when it came to interpreting the “complex dream narrative”.
In addition to get a detailed picture of individual neurons subjects had to have electrodes implanted deep in the brain using surgery.
The Nature researchers used data from patients who had electrodes implanted to monitor and treat them for brain seizures.
However, Dr Cerf said he hoped that it would be possible at a later stage to monitor people without invasive surgery.
He said it would be “wonderful” to be able to read the minds of coma patients who are unable to communicate.
He added: “We can sail with our imaginations and think about all the things we could do if we had access to a person’s brain and basically visualise their thoughts.
“For example, instead of just having to write an email you could just think it. Or another futuristic application would be to think a flow of information and have it written in front of your eyes.”
By Laura Roberts
Published: 7:00AM BST 28 Oct 2010
Source: The Telegraph