Humans aren’t the only ones thinking about a better tomorrow. Rats too spend their nights dreaming of their desired futures, according to new research.
The study, out of the University College London (UCL), says that sleeping rats “dream” of finding treats. Activity in the portion of rat brain cells used in navigation suggests that rats rehearse simulated quests to find food while sleeping.
The research has applications to human desire.
“Our new results show that during rest, the hippocampus also constructs fragments of a future yet to happen. Because the rat and human hippocampus are similar, this may explain why patients with damage to their hippocampus struggle to imagine future events,” senior author Dr. Hugo Spiers tells Science Daily.
The research also lends news insight into the function of the hippocampus, which is traditionally associated with memory. “What's surprising here is that we see the hippocampus planning for the future, actually rehearsing totally novel journeys that the animals need to take in order to reach the food,” says co-lead author Dr Freyja Ólafsdóttir to Science Daily.
The results suggest that humans aren’t the only ones to have the ability to dream of future events, though “you can’t ask rats what they’re thinking or dreaming,” said Spiers to Discover.