[pcp-discuss:] Fwd: Study shows rats dream about running mazes

From: Francis Heylighen (fheyligh@vub.ac.be)
Date: Fri Jan 26 2001 - 10:58:26 GMT

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    >Sender: <complex-science@necsi.org>
    >To: <complex-science@necsi.org>
    >Subject: Study shows rats dream about running mazes
    >Date: Thu, 25 Jan 2001 08:42:57 -0500
    >From: Yaneer Bar-Yam <yaneer@necsi.org>
    >Study shows rats dream about running mazes
    >By Jay Lindsay, Associated Press, 01/24/01
    >BOSTON - Rats apparently can't escape the rat
    >race, even when they're sound asleep.
    >Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of
    >Technology say they have entered the dreams
    >of rats and found them busily working their
    >way through the same lab mazes they
    >negotiate during the day.
    >It is evidence not just that animals dream --
    >most pet owners know that already -- but that
    >they have complex dreams, replaying events
    >much the way humans do, researchers said.
    >And they may use their dreams to learn or
    >The findings, announced Wednesday, could
    >eventually help researchers understand how
    >the human mind works in the murky world of
    >the subconscious.
    >"It's really opening a new door into the study
    >of dreams," said Matt Wilson, associate
    >professor at MIT's Center for Learning and
    >Memory and leader of the study, published in
    >Friday's issue of the journal Neuron.
    >But Robert Stickgold, assistant professor of
    >psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, said
    >there is no way to prove MIT researchers
    >were seeing rats dream.
    >"If the rat would tell us, `Yes, I was dreaming
    >about running around the track,' then we'd
    >have it nailed down," Stickgold.
    >The rats in the MIT study were hooked up to a
    >device that measured the pattern of neurons firing
    >in the hippocampus, an area of the brain known to
    >be involved in memory.
    >The scientists had the mice perform specific
    >tasks in a maze that produced very distinctive
    >patterns of brain activity. When they repeatedly
    >saw almost exactly the same patterns reproduced
    >during sleep, they concluded the rats were
    >dreaming about running through the maze.
    >The correlation was so great that scientists
    >said they could place where in the maze the rat
    >was dreaming it was.
    >The discovery of similarities between human
    >and animal dreams could enable scientists to
    >use the rats to learn more about the human
    >mind, Wilson said. Scientists could
    >manipulate the rats' experiences in a way
    >that is not permissible with people.
    >For instance, some scientists believe people
    >solve problems in their dreams. The theory
    >could be tested on rats, he said.
    >Scientists also believe that dreams help form
    >and reinforce long-term memories. The MIT
    >findings may bolster that theory.
    >Wilson's research was funded in part by the
    >National Institutes of Health.
    >Yaneer Bar-Yam
    >New England Complex Systems Institute
    >For information about this discussion group visit


    _________________________________________________________________________ Dr. Francis Heylighen <fheyligh@vub.ac.be> -- Center "Leo Apostel" Free University of Brussels, Krijgskundestr. 33, 1160 Brussels, Belgium tel +32-2-6442677; fax +32-2-6440744; http://pespmc1.vub.ac.be/HEYL.html ======================================== Posting to pcp-discuss@lanl.gov from Francis Heylighen <fheyligh@vub.ac.be>

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