Rats dream just like humans

Researchers set out to study if rats can mentally map out a new place before they have explored it as reported by Discover Magazine.

Rat: Maps in the Brain

Scientists already knew that after a rat has explored an area, certain neurons in the hippocampus called “place cells” replay those patterns while the rat sleeps.

The researchers let rats explore a T-shaped track where they could run along the centre of the T, but the arms were blocked by clear barriers where rats could see the food and the route to it, but they couldn’t get there.

When the rats were curled up in their cages afterwards the scientists measured their neuron firing. They found that the rat’s brain activity seemed to show them imagining a route through a place they hadn’t explored before. To prove this the researchers then put the rats back into the maze without the barriers. As they explored the arm where they had previously seen the food, the rats’ place cells fired in the same pattern as they had during sleep.



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