by Pei-Wen Wang
Many people believe that dreams can reflect our reality. In 2020, scientists in the U.K. and Italy created an AI tool that analyzes thousands of dreams, which makes the the largest dream analysis study to date.
Dreams- the extension of our real life
Luca Aiello, a senior research scientist at Nokia Bell Labs, and other researchers created an AI tool to analyze thousands of dream cases, whose results are published in the British journal Royal Society Open Science.
It turns out that there is a scientific basis for the saying “What you think about in the day, you will dream of at night,” also known as the “continuum hypothesis;” that is, the belief that dreams are a continuation of what is happening in everyday life. Dream analysis is a time-consuming task for psychologists, where dreams logs are broken into pieces of components for researchers to look for themes and patterns. To speed up the process, Aiello and his colleagues created an algorithm that automatically analyzes a collection of over 24,000 dream reports sourced from the DreamBank database.
According to the researchers, the system could help psychologists quickly identify abnormal dreams that suggest sources of stress or underlying mental health problems. This AI tool is a natural language processing tool that breaks the language involved from the reports into smaller units, where paragraphs are broken into sentences, sentences into phrases, and phrases into words. After analyzing, the system generates a tree-like network to show connections between the processed words.
The researchers suggest that future technology has the potential to bridge the gap between real life and dreams, eventually making our brain activities during sleep quantifiable. This could help psychologists quickly identify potential stressors and mental health problems in patients.
There may still be a gap between dreams and details in the dream reports
Sleep psychiatrist Robert Stickgold of Harvard University points out that this study is an “excellent example” of using natural language processing for dreams. Yet, he also warns that differences in dreams from people may actually stem from the differences of people’s descriptions. He also added that it is difficult to relate dreams to real life without further understanding of the dreamer.
Dreams have always been a major topic of research in neuroscience and the science of sleep. Professional understand the relationship between dreams and reality by analyzing dreams. Althouth studying one’s dreams can help understand better the mental state of the subject, there is no scientific proof that dream interpretation is 100% precise for the time being.