The recent findings have caused scientists to unanimously exclaim: rats have dreams, too! Rodents dream of a better future, new study finds by comparing the data withdrawn during sleep sessions to the activity they perform while awake.
Humans may fear rats, but as a new study recently proved, there could be significant similarities between the two races. A study conducted by the professors at the University College London indicates that rats often dream of impossible things in order to find solutions.
In a ‘Tom and Jerry’-inspired experiment, scientists put a group of lab rats in the difficulty of finding their way through the food that was hidden within a maze. The course presented a T-junction; the food was placed at one end, whereas the other side was empty.
The difficulty resided in the fact that the rodents could not get passed the transparent barrier separating them from food. After examining the track and all possible access routes for a given period of time, scientists removed the rats from the experiment area and put them to sleep.
Their brain activity was monitored during sleep with the help of special electrodes. Scientists were, thus, able to see that the rodents store memories related to locations in their hippocampus cells. This way, they can replay those images forming suitable brain maps that can help them during additional explorations.
The maps that are constructed by rats’ brains during sleep are later on used, while awake to solve possible problems that may prevent them from procuring their food. This hypothesis was confirmed when researchers placed the rats in the track again.
The lab animals began exploring the course according to the brain mappings they have elaborated during sleep. This finding led researchers to conclude that humans’ hippocampus works much in the same way as the rats’ hippocampus does; therefore, some patients who have suffered injuries to this brain area find it difficult to portray future events.
Judging by the results that the rats have registered after the sleep session, we cannot say that their dreams have actually helped them find a solution for the entangled maze. However, the fact that rats have preserved the image of the food alive in their brains all throughout the sleep session, proves that rodents, too, dream of better future.
Scientists will further study this aspect in their upcoming experiments as they want to determine whether there is an actual link or not between these brain mapping and the actions they perform while awake.
The findings of the recent study were published in the journal eLife.
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