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Do Sheep Dream Of Electric Androids? 8

Masem writes: "The NYTimes (free reg req) has a story on work that is being done to determine whether animals dream. The evidence for brain activity and REM is there, but researchers have now found that with 4 test mice which have run a maze several times, their brain activity while they sleep strongly mimiced that of when they are running that particular maze, as opposed to brain patterns when doing other tasks including running a different type of maze. It suggests that the biological function that controls dreaming is related to memory somehow."
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Do Sheep Dream of Electric Androids?

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  • ...that back in the early 70's research was done on cats that removed the motor nerve block usually in place while sleeping. Cats seem to dream of catlike things- hunting & chasing and so forth. Follow this [] link.
  • YA THINK?!!?
  • That would be flattering... but somewhat odd...

    I've never seen sheep in person.
  • I've always had a hunch that dreams were the biproduct of short-term memory being reprocessed and stored as long term memory. This would invovle a huge degree of 'compression' which could be done by concept association, i.e. storing information as a set of 'differentials' from pre-stored information. This explains [to me at least] the strange associations that are inherent in dreams, and the way that, for example, a place can be 'my bedroom' without sharing a single physical feature with my bedroom...
  • Well yeah it is. I think the point of the study (and similar work by Buzsaki at Rutgers) is that not only does network replay itself, but it does it at a faster timescale. It's this replay on fast-forward that allows connections between individual units of the network to become strengthened (Hebbian theory if you follow this stuff) by calcium flow through the NMDA receptor. The time scales of real time playback are too long to engage the consolidation-like processes that we know about.
  • Is this really that brilliant of a find?

    I mean, I would think that they could just ask people what they dream about and come to the same conclusions. I know that most of what I dream of is based on memories intertwined with other memories (sometimes in strange ways) and that there are definite paterns.

    Like, when I'm upset about something I tend to dream about this really god-awful job that I had. It's a recurring dream, all the time when I'm bothered by something.

    When I'm really happy I tend to dream about some of my childhood friends in various situations. You know, running into them somewhere where I spend a lot of time now, or even re-living a fond memory of that time.

    I would think that, even if they can "prove" that animals dream (and who hasn't seen their cat or dog "chase" something through a field in their sleep?) they could get much more information from human subjects on the principles behind dreaming. Let's be realistic, the mouse isn't going to wake up and tell you what it was dreaming, or even whether it was a pleasant dream or a nightmare in it's mind. Animals and humans are made of the same stuff, from the tiniest to the biggest. It's only natural that we would all undergo the same processes, even dreaming. Why not dig deeper than "yep, the mouse dreams"?

    Maybe I'm missing something here. But it seems kind of odd to try to figure out what animals dream about when you could get more information from human subjects. Just kind of wierd.

  • There's much less honour in a non-front page FP. I mean - getting an FP here - it's liking coming first at the special olympics.

    -- Eat your greens or I'll hit you!

  • I often think, being awake is only to have something to dream of.

God helps them that themselves. -- Benjamin Franklin, "Poor Richard's Almanac"