Animal dreams
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Animal dreams

As dog owners readily suspect, animals do dream. Dogs sometimes move their legs, wag their tails, and even bark and growl while sleeping. As with infants' dreams, dogs' dream content is not something we can easily discern, though some proud pet owners like to say, "Oh, he's dreaming of chasing rabbits" or "I bet she's dreaming about the mail carrier." Around the turn of the century, Sigmund Freud, the father of contemporary dream theory, wrote about animal dreams in his landmark book The Interpretation of Dreams: ''I do not myself know what animals dream of. But a proverb . . . does claim to know. 'What,' asks the proverb, 'do geese dream of?' And it replies: 'Of maize!' The whole theory that dreams are wish fulfillments is contained in these two phrases." But what about other animals? In all mammals studied, there is evidence of REM sleep. (Anyone with a dog or cat can observe moving eyelids during sleep, usually ten or twenty minutes after the pet falls asleep.) And scientists have sought to prove whether animals actually see images while they are sleeping. In one experiment, monkeys were trained to touch a lever whenever they received visual stimulation. Then, while they slept, the monkeys pressed the lever again, apparently in response to the visual stimulation of dreaming. What they see has yet to be determined.

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