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WorkbookEdition 6 do animals dream

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Passage and Questions

Name________________
Date________________

• Reading Comprehension Assessment
Directions: Read the passage. Then answer the questions below.

Do Animals Dream?
Sometimes when my dog Zippy is fast asleep, her legs twitch,
her nose wiggles, and she barks softly. Like many pet owners, I am sure
that Zippy is dreaming.
Unfortunately, Zippy cannot tell me what she was dreaming
about, but it certainly looks exciting. Although many once believed that
only human beings were capable of dreaming, a few recent studies have
not only offered scientific proof that animals dream—they have also
given us an idea of what they dream about.
Dreaming mainly occurs during Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep. Although insects and fish do
not enter REM sleep, some birds and all mammals do. Of course, just because an animal is in REM sleep

does not necessarily mean that it is dreaming. It is also obviously unlikely that an animal would be able to
tell us whether or not it dreams. In order to scientifically determine whether or not animals actually dream,
scientists at MIT conducted a series of experiments on rats. First, the scientists trained the rats to run
through a maze. While the rats ran, the scientists monitored their brain activity. The scientists were
specifically interested in the hippocampus, a structure in the brain responsible for memory. While the rats
ran through the maze, the scientists observed the rats’ brain waves—as the rats remembered different
places in the maze, their brain waves moved in a particular pattern. The scientists then studied the rats’
brain waves as they slept. They noticed that the sleeping rats’ brain waves moved in the exact same
patterns as they did when the animals were awake. This discovery led scientists to conclude that the rats
were most likely dreaming about running through the maze.
In another experiment, University of Chicago scientists Amish S. Dave and Daniel Margoliash
observed the brain activity of birds called zebra finches. When male zebra finches are in search of a
female, they sing a special mating song. After hooking the birds up to special monitors, Dave and
Margoliash observed the birds’ brain waves as they sang this song. The researchers then examined the
brain waves of the birds as they slept. They discovered that the sleeping birds had similar brain waves to
the birds who sang the mating song while they were awake. This led Dave and Margoliash to believe that
the birds were dreaming about their mating song—possibly as a way of rehearsing it as they slept.
If the experiments with rats and finches are any indication, then animals—like many humans—
probably dream about what they experience during the day. As they slept, the MIT rats seemed to run
through the same maze they ran through every day. The dreaming zebra finches looked as if they were
practicing same song they sang while they were awake. Although human dreams are often a blend of
realistic and strange, silly, or even frightening, we do not yet know if the animals’ dreams have these
peculiar elements as well. Were the rats simply running through the maze, or was there also a gigantic
wheel of cheese chasing them as they ran? Were the finches simply rehearsing their notes for potential
mates, or were they singing in front of thousands of screaming fans? Perhaps we will never know.
1) What piece of information in the passage suggests that insects and fish probably do not dream?
A.
B.
C.
D.

Insects and fish do not have measurable brain waves.
Only birds and mammals can be trained to run through a maze.
Cold-blooded animals like fish and insects do not form memories.
Insects and fish do not enter REM sleep.


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Questions



2) According to the passage, the hippocampus is
A.
B.
C.
D.

a machine that measures brain waves in animals
a type of brain wave animals produce when they are asleep
a part of the brain involved in making memories
a chemical signal that helps the brain tell the difference between being asleep and being awake

3) As used in the final paragraph, what is the best synonym for peculiar?
A.
B.
C.
D.

unusual
difficult
scientific
pleasant

4) According to the passage, the research performed by scientists on rats and zebra finches found that
I. rats and finches do not remember their dreams when they wake up
II. rats form memories more quickly than zebra finches
III. animals seem to dream about things that they do while they are awake
A.
B.
C.
D.

II only
III only
I and II only
II and III

5) As described in the passage, one major difference between the study performed by Dave and
Margoliash and the experiment done at MIT is that
A. the experiment performed at MIT measured brain activity only when the animals were asleep, but
Dave and Margoliash’s study measured brain activity in both sleeping and awake animals
B. the scientists at MIT had to train the rats to do something before they could study them, but Dave
and Margoliash studied something the finches would normally do in the wild
C. the finches in Dave and Margoliash’s experiment produced the exact same brain waves whether
they were asleep or awake, but the rats in the MIT study produced slightly different brain waves
while they were sleeping
D. Dave and Margoliash’s study only showed that animals dream, but the rat study at MIT showed
what animals dream about
6) Which of the following findings would most weaken the scientists' conclusions?
A. Animals used for scientific experiments have much shorter life spans than animals that live in the
wild.
B. Rats and zebra finches sleep for an average of nearly 75% of their day; this is considerably more
than human beings.
C. Rats and zebra finches’ brains are significantly less complex than human brains.
D. Measuring brain wave activity is not a reliable way of determining whether a subject is dreaming.
7) Based on the information in the passage, explain in your own words how scientists determined that
some animals dream.
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Questions

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8) Do you think there are any animals that do not dream? Why or why not?
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9) At the beginning of the passage, the narrator describes how his or her dog appears while apparently
dreaming. Based on the information in the passage, what might the narrator’s dog be dreaming
about? How do you know? Explain.
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Answers and Explanations

1) B
Question Type: Inference
In paragraph 2, the author explains: “dreaming mainly occurs during Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep. Although insects and fish
do not enter REM sleep, some birds and all mammals do. Of course, just because an animal is in REM sleep does not necessarily
mean that it is dreaming.” The author does admit that REM sleep does not guarantee that the animal is dreaming and points out that
dreaming “mainly occurs” (as opposed to only occurs) during REM sleep. This means that there is no guarantee that fish and
insects do not dream. However, if fish and insects do not enter REM sleep, it is highly unlikely that they can dream. Based on the
information in the passage, the fact that fish and insects do not enter REM sleep suggests they probably do not dream. Therefore
(D) is correct. Although the author does discuss brain waves in the passage, the author never says that insects and fish do not have
measurable brain waves. Therefore (A) is incorrect. The author never says that only birds and mammals can be trained to run
through a maze. Furthermore, the passage never suggests that the ability to run through a maze has anything to do with the ability
to dream. Therefore, (B) is incorrect. Although the author does discuss the connection between forming memories and having
dreams, he or she never says that cold-blooded animals do not form memories. Therefore (C) is incorrect.
2) C
Question Type: Detail
To correctly answer this detail question, we must find the place in the passage where the author talks about the hippocampus. By
scanning the passage quickly, we can see that the author first mentions the hippocampus in paragraph 2: “While the rats ran, the
scientists monitored their brain activity. The scientists were specifically interested in the hippocampus, a structure in the brain
responsible for memory.” Based on this information, we can tell that the hippocampus is a part of the brain involved in making
memories. Therefore (C) is correct. The passage does not provide evidence to support answers (A), (B), or (D). Therefore they are
incorrect.
3) A
Question Type: Vocabulary
peculiar (adjective): strange, bizarre, or odd; unusual.
In the final paragraph, the author writes: “Although human dreams are often a blend of realistic and strange, silly, or even
frightening, we do not yet know if the animals’ dreams have these peculiar elements as well.” We can use context clues—hints from
known words or phrases around the unknown word or phrase—to help us figure out what the word peculiar most nearly means.
Throughout the passage, the author explains that animals seem to dream about things they experience during the day. Something
that happens to you every day is a normal or ordinary. In the final paragraph, the author reminds us that human beings often dream
about things that are both “realistic” and “strange, silly, or even frightening”—in other words, things that are extraordinary or unusual.
The examples the author gives of possible animal dreams are rats being chased by “a gigantic wheel of cheese” and finches
“singing in front of thousands of screaming fans.” Both of these examples are strange or unusual things. Based on this information,
we can tell that we are looking for a word that means strange or unusual. Therefore (A) is correct. Based on the above information,
we can tell that we are looking for a word that means strange or unusual. Difficult does not mean strange or unusual. Therefore (B)
is incorrect. Based on the above information, we can tell that we are looking for a word that means strange or unusual. Scientific
does not mean strange or unusual. Therefore (C) is incorrect. Based on the above information, we can tell that we are looking for a
word that means strange or unusual. Pleasant does not mean strange or unusual. Therefore (D) is incorrect.
4) B
Question Type: Global
Although many people have trouble remembering their dreams when they wake up, the author never tells us that rats and finches do
not remember their dreams when they wake up. This eliminates option (I). Although the passage does discuss the relationship
between memory formation and dreams, the author never states that rats form memories more quickly than zebra finches. This
eliminates option (II). In both the rat and the zebra finch studies, the animals involved dreamed about things that they did every
day—running through a maze and singing. As the author states in the final paragraph, “if the experiments with rats and finches are
any indication, then animals—like many humans—probably dream about what they experience during the day.” In other words,
animals seem to dream about things that they do when they are awake. This supports option (III). Therefore (B) is correct.
5) B
Question Type: Global
In paragraph 2, the author explains the MIT experiment involving rats. In the experiment, scientists “trained the rats to run through a
maze” and then monitored their brain activity while asleep and awake. Rats do not run through mazes in the wild; the scientists had
to train them to do this. Paragraph 3 explains the study on zebra finches performed by Dave and Margoliash. In this study, the
scientists measured the birds’ brain waves as they sang a song typically used when they are searching for a mate. Singing this song
is something that the birds do naturally in the wild. Therefore, (B) is correct. In paragraph 2, the author explains the MIT experiment
involving rats. According to the author, the scientists studied the rats while they were awake and while they were asleep. The author
writes: “the scientists then studied the rats’ brain waves as they slept. They noticed that the sleeping rats’ brain waves moved in the
exact same patterns as they did when the animals were awake.” Based on this information, we can tell that the rats’ brains were
studied while they were awake as well as while they were asleep. Therefore (A) is incorrect. In paragraph 2, the author explains the
MIT experiment involving rats. According to the author, the scientists “noticed that the sleeping rats’ brain waves moved in the exact
same patterns as they did when the animals were awake.” This information shows us that the rats’ brain waves were the same
whether they were asleep or awake. Therefore (C) is incorrect. In paragraph 2, the author explains that the sleeping rats’ brain
waves showed that they were probably dreaming about running through a maze. Paragraph 3 discusses Dave and Margoliash’s
study on zebra finches, which showed that “sleeping birds had similar brain waves to the birds who sang the mating song while they
were awake,” which led the scientists to “believe that the birds were dreaming about their mating song—possibly as a way of
rehearsing it as they slept.” Based on this information, we can see that both studies suggest not just that animals dream, but show
us what they might dream about. Therefore (D) is incorrect.


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Answers and Explanations

6) D
Question Type: Inference
In paragraphs 2 and 3, the author describes two different scientific experiments that offered evidence of animal dreaming. In the MIT
experiment, scientists observed the brain waves of sleeping and awake rats. According to the information in paragraph 2, while “the
rats ran through the maze, the scientists observed the rats’ brain waves—as the rats remembered different places in the maze, their
brain waves moved in a particular pattern. The scientists then studied the rats’ brain waves as they slept. They noticed that the
sleeping rats’ brain waves moved in the exact same patterns as they did when the animals were awake. This discovery led
scientists to conclude that the rats were most likely dreaming about running through the maze.” The brain wave patterns of the rats
were the same whether they were awake or asleep. This suggested to the scientists that the rats were dreaming about running
through the maze. In paragraph 3, the author describes similar experiment on zebra finches. Scientists Dave and Margoliash
observed the awake birds’ brain waves as they sang a special mating song. The researchers then examined the brain waves of the
birds while they were asleep. According to the author, the scientists “discovered that the sleeping birds had similar brain waves to
the birds who sang the mating song while they were awake. This led Dave and Margoliash to believe that the birds were dreaming
about their mating song.” In both studies, the scientists’ conclusions are dependent on the information they gathered by measuring
the animals’ brain waves while they were awake and asleep. Brain wave activity observed when the animal was asleep that
matched the brain wave activity of the animal while it was awake suggested to the scientists that the animal was dreaming of what it
did while it was awake (running through a maze or singing a mating song). The scientists only knew an animal was dreaming
because they recognized a pattern of brain wave activity. If brain wave activity did not indicate that an animal was dreaming, then
the researchers would not be able to draw any legitimate scientific conclusions about an animal’s dreams. Therefore (D) is correct.
Even if it is true that animals in laboratories have shorter life spans than animals in the wild, this fact does not have anything to with
the experiments discussed in this passage. The research described in this passage has to do with sleeping and dreams, not life
span. Therefore (A) is incorrect. The amount of time rats and zebra finches spend asleep does not affect the strength of the
scientists’ conclusions. The research described in this passage has to do with whether or not the animals dream and what they
dream about; it does not matter how much the animals actually sleep. Therefore (B) is incorrect. The complexity of rat and zebra
finch brains does not affect the strength of the scientists’ conclusions. The research described in this passage has to do with
whether or not the animals dream and what they dream about; it does not matter how complex the animals’ brains are. An animal
with a very simple brain that has very simple dreams is still dreaming. Therefore(C) is incorrect.



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