We always brag about how our race is highly evolved, highly conscious, highly imaginative and creative, the single one capable to make projections about the future and dream about hopes, desires and expectations. Well, nature is here only to contradict our beliefs, as it seems that rats are equipped with the ability of dreaming about all the above mentioned too.
Rats, just like we do, have dreams about the future too. Scientists have conducted an extensive study on the tiny creatures and they came to the conclusion that whenever rats see a treat they are not capable to reach, later dreams depict them running toward it. This finding could lead to insights related to what happens in the human mind during sleep as well.
The interesting discovery came to the surface after scientists placed four rats at the bottom of a T-shaped small lane, where the study subjects could see food but were unable to access it. Immediately after the frustrating experience, rats were encouraged to fall asleep, with their brain activity being recorded with 50 electrodes during sleep.
After a short sleep, the mice were put back in the maze where the animals ran along directly into the food direction, leading scientists to think that the animals had been carefully planning a strategy while sleeping.
Previous research already outlined that after rats had explored a certain area, a group of neurons in the hippocampus replace the patterns, helping them reconsider the way in which they could manage or map a certain situation.
The group of active neurons in the hippocampus is called “place cells” and is also found in humans. These structures are responsible with memory storage in terms of locations and mental mapping. The mind uses different cells that fire whenever we find ourselves in new circumstances and if scientists are able to record the activity of certain brain cells, then they can easily spy on the way our minds map new places. This kind of procedure can be done by implanting small electrodes on very small wires into the brain. And this is exactly what happened in the rats’ case, allowing researchers to conclude that rats not only dream, but they have the capacity to mentally map a new place before they’ve explored it.
However, the study needs further analysis, as researchers don’t know yet if this mental mapping capacity is related to the dreams realm only or to a different mental process.
It seems that researchers are deeply interested to discover a way in which mind can be controlled, as in previous studies they proved how dreams of mice can be altered and modified, raising serious questions about mind control and manipulation. If such experiments are successful on mice, they can easily be transferred to humans too, but why would someone want to control another one’s mind? That is the underlying question behind all the experiments that involve processes in the brain. So at cute as it sounds that mice dream of electric sheep or delicious dishes, a certain kind of suspicion lays in the background.
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