19 Jun 2021

Erik Hoel: how our weird dreams could be keeping our brains fit

From Saturday Morning, 11:35 am on 19 June 2021

Nobody really knows why we dream. It’s a divisive topic within the scientific community, and the neuroscience field is awash with hypotheses on why dreams occur.

Erik Hoel, a research assistant professor of neuroscience at Tufts University in Massachusetts, was inspired by the techniques used to train artificial neural networks for his own theory of “overfitted brain hypothesis”. 

Hoel’s hypothesis suggests that, when we dream our brains are breaking the cycle of dull daily tasks - brushing our teeth, filing paperwork, chopping vegetables - with an infusion of discord that keeps our brains fit. Hoel, who is also a novelist and grew up in a bookshop, says this also might explain our love of fiction.

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Photo: Provided