Do Animals Dream?

If we humans dream about daily issues and stresses do animals dream as well?
Studies have shown that other mammals show the same level of brain activity and increased heart rate during REM sleep (the cycle of sleep where most dreaming occurs) as humans.
Just like humans can often talk in their sleep dogs are known to bark or twitch their legs during REM sleep.

Cold-blooded animals on the other hand do not seem to experience REM sleep.

Do animals dream then?

As we associate REM sleep with dreaming in humans it is assumed that warm-blooded animals do indeed dream. However there is no way we can answer this question for sure, as most of these animals do not have the ability to communicate with us to let us know if they dream or not!

Gorillas however have been taught to communicate and it is with our closest cousins that we get some interesting information.

Ethnologist Penny Patterson has reported dreams that two gorillas Michael and Koko have had. Being able to communicate with sign language they have communicated their dreams to Penny.

Koko describes amazing events about people and animals in the morning after awakening more than at any other time during the day.

Michael, who’s mother was killed by poachers reports events where humans are killing gorillas, waking up in the middle of the night with these nightmares thus it seems more probable he is recounting a dream rather than a memory.

There have been experiments carried out on rats in the laboratory that some scientist claim prove animals do indeed dream about every day experiences just as we do.

Matthew Wilson of the MIT Centre for Learning and Memory conducted trials into the brain wave activity of rats while awake and asleep.
He trained rats to run around a track for a reward and while doing so he measured their brain activity. Then when they were asleep he measured their brain wave activity again.

Through many trials it was claimed that the brain wave pattern was the same. From these experiments it was claimed that rats, like humans, dream of everyday experiences.

As interesting as these findings are I believe more conclusive studies need to be carried out before we will know for sure if an animal dreams or not.

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