Science Shows That Rats Dream About Cheese

June 26, 2015 | Liam Mathews

Rats use The Secret to visualize snacks.

A study by University College London published in the journal eLife claims that rats imagine walking to food when their path is blocked, visualizing it the way Sir Edmund Hilary imagined reaching the summit of Everest or Michael Jordan imagines getting a great poker hand.

EurekaAlert writes:

The researchers monitored brain activity in rats, first as the animals viewed food in a location they could not reach, then as they rested in a separate chamber, and finally as they were allowed to walk to the food. The activity of specialised brain cells involved in navigation suggested that during the rest the rats simulated walking to and from food that they had been unable to reach.

This could shed light on why people who have experienced damage to their hippocampus are unable to imagine the future.

Rats are complex little creatures: they have imaginations and they feel regret. But only about food. I actually relate to rats a lot. Right now I’m visualizing myself eating a pint of ice cream later, an action I know I will regret.

(Photo: Jean-Etienne Minh-Duy Poirrier)