Through Artificial Intelligence, functional magnetic resonance and electroencephalography, it is possible to glimpse what we think when we are asleep. A group of researchers from the University of Geneva has discovered that, during deep sleep, the brain dialogues with the different neural regions and evaluates recently lived memories to archive only the most interesting ones. If they are successful, they are saved to the hard drive.
We are known to spend about a third of our time sleeping, but many of the brain processes that kick in while we sleep. Now, the new study by Swiss researchers has focused on this issue and has discovered that it is possible to observe in detail what we think during sleep. This is established in an investigation recently published in the journal Nature Communications.
Integration of technologies
According to a Press release, have combined a new Artificial Intelligence approach with the analysis of brain images obtained by functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and electroencephalography (EEG).
The results show that the brain goes through the events and situations experienced throughout the day during deep sleep, selecting only the most important aspects.
Subsequently, a reward mechanism classifies memories based on the satisfaction they have given us. Those that are considered more satisfactory go on to make up the memory “hard disk”, while the rest are eliminated or transferred to others. alternative memory spaces.
In this task, the hipocampo, which acts during deep sleep by sending recent events stored during the day to the cerebral cortex. It is worth remembering that deep sleep It is the phase in which the functions of the body and brain waves slow down, being vital in cell regeneration and for different bodily functions.
This new system manages to analyze what we think when we sleep with an unprecedented accuracy so far, thanks to the integration of different technologies and tools. Scientists define it as a “Decoder” of brain activity, capable of translating the dialogue established between different brain regions to consolidate memory and strengthen neural connections.
Initially, a group of volunteers was invited to do a fun activity and, later, to sleep for a few hours. Throughout the test, brain images were obtained by functional magnetic resonance imaging and the electrical activity of the brain was measured through electroencephalography techniques.
Subsequently, all this information was analyzed by means of a Artificial Intelligence system, which allowed to obtain clearer results in relation to the identification of the processes that are developed.
Perhaps the most important conclusion is that, both during the activities, and when remembering them after a few days, the participants activated the same brain areas. Even when the memories were spontaneous during deep sleep, they appeared more clearly in the brain images, showing that the brain classifies said information based on the satisfaction produced by each experience and its significance.
Specifically, the patterns of brain activity observed during waking behavior spontaneously resurface during slow wave sleep or deep sleep. There is specific neural mechanism whereby the most rewarding or rewarded life experiences are preferably reproduced and consolidated while we sleep.
Reward biases spontaneous neural reactivation during sleep. Sterpenich, V., van Schie, MKM, Catsiyannis, M. et al. Nature Communications (2021) .DOI: https: //doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-24357-5
Photo: Hernán Sánchez on Unsplash.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.