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Study: Covid-19 infects majority of bad dreams

By: Team Ifairer | Posted: 02-10-2020
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Study: Covid-19 infects majority of bad dreams
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In a paper published in Frontiers in Psychology, scientists used artificial intelligence to help analyze the dream content of close to a thousand people and found that the novel coronavirus had infected more than half of the distressed dreams reported.

The researchers crowdsourced sleep and stress data from more than 4,000 people during the sixth week of the COVID-19 lockdown in Finland. About 800 respondents also contributed information about their dreams during that time - many of which revealed shared anxiety about the pandemic.

"We were thrilled to observe repeating dream content associations across individuals that reflected the apocalyptic ambiance of COVID-19 lockdown," said lead author Dr Anu-Katriina Pesonen, head of the Sleep & Mind Research Group at the University of Helsinki.

"The results allowed us to speculate that dreaming in extreme circumstances reveal shared visual imagery and memory traces, and in this way, dreams can indicate some form of shared mindscape across individuals," added Pesonen."The idea of a shared imagery reflected in dreams is intriguing," she added.

Pesonen and her team transcribed the content of the dreams from Finnish into English word lists and fed the data into an AI algorithm, which scanned for frequently appearing word associations.

The computer built what the researchers called dream clusters from the "smaller dream particles" rather than entire dreams. Eventually, 33 dream clusters or themes emerged. Twenty of the dream clusters were classified as bad dreams, and 55 percent of those had pandemic-specific content.

Themes such as failures in social distancing, coronavirus contagion, personal protective equipment, dystopia, and apocalypse were rated as pandemic specific.For example, word pairs in a dream cluster labeled "Disregard of Distancing" included mistake-hug, hug-handshake, handshake-restriction, handshake-distancing, distancing-disregard, distancing-crowd, crowd-restriction and crowd-party."

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