When Dreams May Come
This morning, I was wondering about some research done at UC Berkeley several years ago that recorded brain signals from research participants as they watched movies. The researchers then used algorithmic techniques to reconstruct the internal imagery.
What I was wondering was whether the technique could be used to capture dream imagery. Film director Wim Wenders’ wonderful 1991 movie, Until the End of the World, explores this idea. Here’s what the researchers said about this possibility:
Neuroscientists generally assume that all mental processes have a concrete neurobiological basis. Under this assumption, as long as we have good measurements of brain activity and good computational models of the brain, it should be possible in principle to decode the visual content of mental processes like dreams, memory, and imagery. The computational encoding models in our study provide a functional account of brain activity evoked by natural movies. It is currently unknown whether processes like dreaming and imagination are realized in the brain in a way that is functionally similar to perception. If they are, then it should be possible to use the techniques developed in this paper to decode brain activity during dreaming or imagination.