Submitted by CopperGenie t3_y3o5b0 in askscience

I hear conflicting opinions on this. Some say dogs have associative memory, but not episodic memory. If this is the case, how do dogs dream? If a dog is dreaming, for example, about chasing a squirrel, wouldn't it have to remember seeing the squirrel first? (I am assuming that remembering images relies on this episodic memory, but please correct me if I'm wrong).



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Petal_Chatoyance t1_isc284j wrote

Go watch 'Bunny' the dog on YouTube. Has learned around 300 words, through the use of paw-activated buttons. Bunny absolutely has episodic memory, as well as long memory of the past, additionally, Bunny plans for the future and makes requests for things and events yet to come.

Bunny can relate the content of dreams and concerns, and remembers events in order.

Bunny is not the only dog that can use paw-buttons to communicate; there is now an entire industry for this, and some cats have learned as well. The buttons and holders are sold commercially now, and more and more amateur scientists are exploring how much a dog can learn, and how deeply they think about their lives.

The benefit - beyond establishing that dogs have minds like ours - is that the dog becomes vastly less frustrated and neurotic when it can say clearly what it wants, what it fears, or what is bothering it.

The downside is that the dog now can, and does, make requests and even demands, and expects respect as a member of the family. Language access means it can complain if things go badly, or insult if it is angry.


FOTBWN t1_ismnsig wrote

AFAIK 'bunny' the dog's miracle button aided sentence structured vocabulary was debunked. Much like Koko the signing gorilla.


CrateDane t1_isbrtry wrote

It's hard to fully confirm without a talking dog and perhaps also clearer definitions of what counts as episodic memory. But at least "episodic-like" memory has been confirmed in dogs.


its_ean t1_isaz1tf wrote

I dunno about the classification of dog memory and dream memory.

Dreams are the brain's maintenance cycle. They aren't passive like a movie and they don't need to make ANY sense. A squirrel can just appear or something that reminds them of a squirrel.

Squirrel, therefore chase. Chase therefore ball. Ball therefore swim. Wet therefore shake…


Solesaver t1_isb9rbg wrote

Dreams aren't memories. Dreams and hallucinations are when your brain fires random neurons, and then it tries to interpret those random firings as sensible sensory inputs by filling in the gaps. The dream continues as the brain solidifies its interpretation and begins to self-propagate the meme.

A dog dreaming about chasing squirrel is something along the lines of random firings->that must a squirrel->I chase squirrels->squirrels run away when I chase->I continue chasing. It doesn't really require a memory of a squirrel any more than chasing a squirrel in real life requires a memory of previous squirrel. The dog just very instinctively chases small critters and knows that they usually run away.

If anything dreams are more driven by associative memory. Every input has an expected output, and you just keep chaining those together. Like spamming the suggested word on your phone's autocomplete.