The Stuff That Rat Dreams Are Made Of
Researchers know that rats dream, and even what they dream about. But do the rats themselves experience their dreams? One researcher says, “you’d have to ask them.”
The new research on rats involved electrodes strapped to the heads of rats as they wandered around trying to find food. The experiments set up a chamber filled with foods that the rats could see, but not get to.
After monitoring waking activity in the search for a meal, the observers then attached electrodes during rat sleep. When they awoke, and were allowed to get at the food.
The data from all three phases (searching, sleeping, and finding) showed that two activities – dreaming and going toward the available food – were the most alike.
Lead researcher Hugo Spiers, a professor of experimental psychology at University College London, explained the conclusions. “During exploration, mammals rapidly form a map of the environment in their hippocampus,” “During sleep or rest, the hippocampus replays journeys through this map which may help strengthen the memory.”
The replay of images is considered to be the stuff of dreams, but there is no way to confirm whether the rats remember this information. It’s the brains way of helping mammals solve pressing problems.