If there’s one thing we know about dreams, it’s that they’re unique for each individual. They’re a product of your recent experiences, emotions, and thoughts. You can’t simply make someone dream whatever you want.
Or can you?
Scientists at MIT managed to do just that. They started by training rats to run a maze. The rats were given two distinct audio cues to help them navigate the maze and find treats. One tone would tell the rats that the treat was to their left; the other tone told them to turn right. Rats love treats, so very soon they learned what the two different tones meant, and responded to them accordingly when navigating the maze. Researchers then recorded the specific changes in the rats’ brain waves as they responded to the two different tones.
Finally, it was time tomess with the rats’ dreams. When the rats went to sleep, their brain activity was monitored to establish that, yes—they were dreaming about running through the maze. At that point, the researchers tried influencing the dreams by playing the two different tones.
Curiously, the brain scans showed that the rats, while dreaming, responded to the audio cues in exactly the same way as they did when awake. This experiment proves thatdreams can be directly shapedby external triggers. The researchers even speculate that one day it will be possible for people to have customized dreams via such “dream engineering.”