Scientists in Kyoto ‘read’ dreams with MRI scanners


Scientists in Kyoto said Friday they have found a way to “read” people’s dreams using MRI scanners to unlock some of the secrets of the unconscious mind.

The researchers have managed what they said was “the world’s first decoding” of night-time visions, a subject that has captivated humanity since ancient times.

In a study published in the journal Science, the scientists at the ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories in Kyoto used magnetic resonance imaging scans to locate exactly which part of the brain is active during the first moments of sleep.

They woke up the dreamer and asked him or her what images they had seen, a process that was repeated 200 times.

These answers were compared with the brain maps that had been produced by the MRI.

Researchers were then able to predict what images the volunteers had seen with a 60 percent accuracy rate, rising to more than 70 percent with around 15 specific items, including men, words and books, they said.

“We have concluded that we successfully decoded some kinds of dreams with a distinctively high success rate,” said Yukiyasu Kamitani, who headed the team. “I believe it was a key step toward reading dreams more precisely.”