Do animals dream?

Dog owners wonder if their pets are dreaming when they twitch, growl or even run while asleep. The simple answer is yes, as demonstrated by the dog in the GIF below.

 

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Dogs have similar brain wave patterns to humans, meaning they experience the exact same stages of sleep that humans do. The dream stage is called REM (rapid eye movement), in which the body (usually) doesn’t move, but the brain is as active as when awake.

 

Mammal dreams have been extensively researched, and some animals dreams are extremely specific. Rats trained to use mazes were studied while they slept, and the brain activity when running through the maze and when asleep was the same. The rats were navigating through the maze while asleep, and researchers could even pinpoint their position in the dream from the brain activity.

 

Not all animals dream like this. REM sleep is thought to help restore brain function, and therefore it would make sense if only the most intelligent animals experienced it. So far, it has been found to occur in birds and mammals and hasn’t yet been observed in other animals, but science is ongoing and there is an incredible amount of information about animals we are yet to discover.

 

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Nursery web spiders give gifts

 

Image from flickr.com/photos/tambako