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December 2, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review

Can computers decode dreams? Researchers take a first step

By Geoffrey Mohan




JewishWorldReview.com |

LOS ANGELES — (MCT) Dreams defy even the dreamer, slipping away as stealthily as they arrive in a mind made credulous by sleep. But what if scientists could read our dreams by using the most advanced medical imaging machines and employing the sophisticated algorithms that flag fraudulent transactions among millions of credit card purchases?

Researchers in Japan have taken an early step toward this chimerical goal by training computers to recognize the images flitting through the minds of sleepers in the earliest stages of dreaming. Their results, published online Thursday by the journal Science, suggest that machines may be able to read our minds — at least while we're in the anteroom of dreamland.

"We're all intrinsically interested in dreaming, but neuroscientists to this day aren't certain what it does for us," said Jack Gallant, who studies the brain's visual system at University of California at Berkeley. "It would be great to have a method of decoding to allow us to know what is going on when we dream."

Like other researchers applying their brains to the brain, the Japanese scientists are probing dreams to understand how they relate to such core functions as memory consolidation and learning.


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The researchers put three volunteers into a functional magnetic resonance imaging machine capable of tracking blood flow in the brain, a sign of neurons at work. They also hooked up the volunteers to electroencephalograph machines, which record the electrical activity of those neurons.

Then the scientists waited for the subjects to fall asleep.

The EEG readings showed when the volunteers entered an early stage of dreaming called hypnagogic hallucination. The researchers woke the subjects roughly 200 times, about every six minutes, to get verbal reports of what they "saw" before the images faded from memory.

The volunteers' responses were understandably groggy, such as: "I saw a person . . . it was something like a scene that I hid a key in a place between a chair and a bed and someone took it." The researchers focused on the nouns in these descriptions and combined them into generic categories, which were represented by images — a human face, a key, furniture — and presented to the subjects while awake.

The rest was a giant math problem. The scientists wrote a computer program to sort through the patterns of brain activity captured by the functional MRI in both waking and sleeping states; then the program looked for links between those brain activity patterns and specific images.

The computers learned to decode dream imagery with an average accuracy of 60 percent, according to the study. In some cases, the accuracy was significantly higher.

"For some categories — like male, female and other characters — you can predict if this character was in the dream or not with an accuracy of 70 percent to75 percent," said study leader Yukiyasu Kamitani, a neuroscientist at ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories in Kyoto.

Dr. Allen R. Braun, who studies the neural basis of language at the National Institutes of Health, said the study was "an important first step to understanding visual imagery during sleep." But he cautioned that the methods used by the Japanese team might not work for decoding dreams that occur during REM sleep, the stage characterized by rapid eye movement.

REM dreams — with their complex imagery, high emotional content and bizarre jumble of logic, time and space — largely remain a mystery. Decoding such dreams could unlock the secrets of many regions of the brain, not just the visual cortices that were monitored in the study.

"If you have a theory of the brain, you should be able to decode the brain," Gallant said. The only limiting factors, he said, are "how well you can measure brain activity, how good your models are and how fast your computers are."

The fact that the computer models used data from waking minds and still made accurate predictions about dreams suggests the researchers are onto something about the links between waking and dreaming states, Gallant said.

"There's something in common between what goes on in dreaming and what goes on in perception," he said. Although it may sound like science fiction, researchers have made remarkable strides toward reading the brain's internal logic.

One of Gallant's computer programs managed to identify 92 percent of images presented to waking subjects using only MRI readouts. Other studies were able to discern a brain's attempt at motor control, which could lead to help for people who have lost control of their limbs.

Decoding also has made shallow forays into the unconscious mind — predicting changes in perception that were unknown to subjects. One study probed the unconscious origin of racial biases, leading to speculation that it may be possible to detect individual biases. That would have important implications for such fields as law enforcement.

The Japanese researchers offered a similarly tantalizing suggestion: Some of the "errors" in their computerized guesses could represent images lost even to the dreamer. If so, that would mean the machine was able to understand the volunteer's mind better than the volunteer could.

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© 2013, Los Angeles Times Distributed by MCT Information Services



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