While You Rest, Your Brain Plays

IMage source: http://www.bodhipaksa.com/images/brain.jpg

Susan Whitfield-Gabrieli and John Gabrieli of MIT recently released some interesting research on brain resting state activity.

We may expect that performance of the brain when it’s lying still in a brain scanner, doing nothing but daydreaming, to be just that, doing nothing. Especially compared to our daily brain numbing amount of work-related activity.  Well it turns out, that cultivating an active idle mind or teaching yourself how to daydream effectively, might actually encourage the sort of long-range neural connections that make us smart.

As Life Hacker’s recent article pointed out: While focus is important, it can be easy to get into a writer’s block-type situation, where focusing harder only makes it harder to get things done. Next time you’re feeling stuck, take some time away from your work and think about something else entirely.

Here’s the science… A great lecture about neural brain activity
http://videolectures.net/eccs08_haynes_dmsfhba/
*sorry it wasn’t embeddable :(

“Your brain is a very expensive gadget to run,” he says. “If you aren’t engaged in a task, your brain doesn’t just turn off. It wouldn’t make any sense.” Marcus Raichle and his team at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

The default network may have a more critical role than just daydreaming. Raichle believes that a lot can be learned about disease by examining resting states in the brain. Case in point, if certain areas of the brain are more active than others while at rest, it could help diagnose mental disorders. Cool huh?

So while you rest, your frontal and parietal brain regions, aren’t resting at all. So do yourself a favour and take a break. You might just think of something truly out of the box.


Sources:

http://www.dana.org/news/brainwork/detail.aspx?id=7382&p=3
http://lifehacker.com/5715808/take-more-daydreaming-breaks-to-improve-your-focus
http://scienceblogs.com/cortex/2010/01/intelligence_and_the_idle_mind.php

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