Scientists in the UK and Italy used an AI to conduct the largest dream analysis study to date, Motherboard reports. They used it to analyze 24 000 dream reports and found evidence that supports the continuity hypothesis (the theory that dreams are an extension of our waking life).
Analyzing dreams is usually extremely time-consuming since psychologists manually apply scales to separate reports into the characters, interactions, and emotions mentioned in each report. The reports analyzed by the AI were fairly detailed. By automating this process, scientists were able to analyze dreams at an accelerated rate that was previously unheard of.
According to Motherboard, Luca Aiello, a senior research scientist at Nokia Bell Labs and one of the paper’s co-authors, “built a tool that uses natural language processing to parse dream reports into their most important terms [and] applies a common dream analysis scale and calculates metrics like the proportion of imaginary characters, aggressive interactions, or negative emotions present in a dream.”
This means that, as well as being able to look into the meaning of an individual person’s single dream, researchers can begin to draw general conclusions about the national psyche. Namely, how do different people cope with different situations and global events – like the pandemic, or a recession. This is especially interesting since the study found that people’s lived experiences impact the way they dream, like women tended to be friendlier and less aggressive than men in their dreams, and a war veteran experienced uncommon levels of aggression.
Aiello told Motherboard, “The common sayings and poetry around the work of Freud leads people to believe that most of our dreams are cryptic messages and must be interpreted [but,] in reality, what people may not realize is that dreams are very pure representations of our psychological state in relation to what we do.”