Imagination and Reality Drift in Opposite Directions Inside Brain



Yet another interesting research centering ‘Imagination and reality’ has brought the masses into curiosity about functioning of the human brain. Dreams appear to be quite real and almost tend to bite our tongue when we wake up; however all such imagination tracks in the opposite route to the path that reality follows inside our brain.

Although human brain is the most delicate and complicated organ to study and experiment upon, the researchers of the University of Wisconsin-Madison have been successfully able to discover evidence in favor of directional flow of information inside the brain.

“A really important problem in brain research is understanding how different parts of the brain are functionally connected. What areas are interacting? What is the direction of communication?” said Barry Van Veen, the UW-Madison professor.

To explore across the different parts of brain’s network, researchers used the powerful process of Electroencephalography (EEG) which records electrical activity along the scalp by measuring voltage fluctuations resulting from ionic current flowing within neurons of the brain.

One of the two groups was asked to watch short video clip to rerun it later through imagination in the brain. The other group was asked to first imagine that they were riding a magic bicycle focusing on details of shapes, colors and textures and later watching a short video of silent nature scenes.


In the case of imagination, the researchers found an increase in the flow of information from the parietal lobe of the brain to the occipital lobe. The parietal lobe being a higher-order region merges inputs from several of the senses and the occipital lobe being lower-order region makes up much of the brain’s visual cortex. In contrast, visual information i.e. reality taken in by the eyes tends to flow from the occipital lobe to the parietal lobe.

The results of the research were published in the journal- NeuroImage – under the names of Van Veen; Giulio Tononi, a UW-Madison psychiatry professor and neuroscientist; Daniela Dentico, a scientist at UW–Madison’s Waisman Center; and collaborators from the University of Liege in Belgium.

“We were very interested in seeing if our signal-processing methods were sensitive enough to discriminate between these conditions,” says Van Veen, whose work is supported by the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering. “These types of demonstrations are important for gaining confidence in new tools.”

This successful research on imagination and reality is expected to serve as the foundation for further discoveries such as uncovering the facts about what happens in the brain during sleep, dreaming and brain’s use of network to encode short-term memory.

Source: University of Wisconsin-Madison

What do you think about this pathbreaking discovery about the secrets of the brain? Tell us in comments below!

Kriti Kushwaha

Kriti Kushwaha

Kriti is an aspiring blogger and Electronics and Communication Engineering student from NIT-H who loves poetry and McD's burger, of course.
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