ITALIAN RESEARCHERS TAKE A PHOTO OF THE BRAIN SPOTTING DIFFERENCES BETWEEN DREAM AND FANTASY A nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) highlighted the areas that are active when narrating

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Researchers of a project made in Italy were able to ‘take a photo’ of the biological differences between dream and fantasy; hence, they highlighted the areas of the brain that are involved in these two different forms of imagination. The results of this project have been published on the Journal of Sleep Research and it is signed by a group of scientists led by Francesco Benedetti – Head of the Psychiatric and Clinic Psychobiology Unit at San Raffaele Hospital in Milan – and Armando D’Agostino – Department of Health Science at Milan University.

During just one NMR, participants were asked to tell fantasies and dreams they recorded in a journal during the month before. When recalling experiences, specific cortical areas in the right cerebral hemisphere (Inferior frontal gyrus and middle and superior temporal areas), which are connected with creativity and imagination.
“When recalling experiences, specific cortical areas in the right cerebral hemisphere, which are connected with creativity and imagination. This discovery highlighted the fact that these areas only get active when recalling fantasies and progressively disconnect when recalling dreams, which are incoherent and incomprehensible when awake – explained researchers. Hence, the results demonstrate that these structures are responsible of keeping a high consequential logic, as when recalling fantasies or when awake, and it gradually fades as dreaming”.

According to Benedetti, this discovery may be the new starting point to understand some pathological mental diseases like psychosis – serious psychiatric condition that compromises conscious experiences making people perceive them as it they were dreams. According to Benedetti, thanks to this discovery “an important finish line was reached in neuroscience; this field of study has to face the impossibility to thoroughly observe these mental states”.

Translation provided by Mary Ann D’Costa

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