This story is over 5 years old.


Here's How Scientists May Soon Be Able to "See" Your Dreams

A new animated short from Future of StoryTelling illustrates how scientists are using MRI technology to tap into the subconscious.
GIF and Screencaps by the author, via

Imagine waking up in the morning and being able to watch the dream you just had like it was the morning news. Well, according to Marvin Chun, the Richard M. Colgate Professor of Psychology at Yale University, this might actually be a reality in the not so distant  future. In Decoding The Mind, a short animated video from Future of StoryTelling, illustrator Matt Smithson animates a presentation wherein Chun describes how researchers are beginning to introduce tools and technologies to help visualize the insides of people’s minds.


Smithson’s animations fall somewhere in between collage and illustration. He mixes photocopied text and grainy photographs with original drawings and motion graphics. Each frame falls seamlessly into the next, making the discussion fun and easy to follow.

In the three-and-a-half-minute talk, Chun provides some historical context for humanity’s longstanding ambition to tap into the subconscious, starting with Hippocrates in 300 BC. Now, “For the first time in human history," Chun remarks, "science and technology have caught with the imagination.” Using MRI technology, we're able to map which areas of the brain are active. Scientists then take this imagery and compare it to a massive database of brain activity that helps them visualize and interpret what someone might be thinking.

This sort of research could prove useful for preventative healthcare, like understanding and treating learning disabilities or dementia. Chun says this same methodology suggests, “a novel approach for reconstructing offline visual experiences, including dreams, memories, and imagination.” He finishes his talk with a very important question: faced with this new technology, “What will artist and storytellers do with this unprecedented access to the subconscious?” Ignite your imagination in the short video below:

Marvin Chun – Decoding The Mind (FoST 2016) from Future Of StoryTelling on Vimeo.

For more work by animator Matt Smithson, head over to his website, and learn more about Future of StoryTelling here.


The Psychology of What Makes an Image "Horror"

Freud Would Have Analyzed This | GIF Six-Pack

Explore a Visual Archive of Psychological Testing