- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Scientists have identified a “hot zone” of dream activity and are working on predicting what people see in their sleep, according to a study published in the journal Nature Neuroscience this month.

Scientists from the University of Wisconsin-Madison used electroencephalography (EEG) to monitor electrical activity in the brain during sleep, both during what is believed to be the deepest portion of sleep REM or Rapid Eye Movement, and non-REM.

The experimenters monitored different phases of sleep in participants and frequently woke them up to question if and what they were dreaming about. They then went back to the EEG data to compare notes.

It’s generally accepted that people experience dreams only during REM sleep, however the researchers found participants also reporting dreams after being awaken during non-REM sleep, and instances of no dreams when awaken from a deep sleep.

The area of most activity after dream reporting the scientists identified as a “hot zone” in the posterior cortex, where much of our consciousness is concentrated.

Scientists then compared their notes on the dreams with the heightened brain activity and were able to draw conclusion between which activity corresponded to specific dreams, such as those with faces, speaking and movement.

Co-author of the study Francesca Siclari told NPR that there was “a very close correspondence [between] brain areas that are active when we dream about things, compared to brain activities that are active when we see or perceive things during wakefulness.”

The researchers also noted that the activity in the hot zone corresponded to how the brain processes new experiences, as opposed to recalling memories, adding new information to the debate of what makes up our dreams.

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