Where Does Your Brain Go When You Daydream?

MONDAY, January 25, 2021 (HealthDay News) – Researchers have found a way to track what your mind is doing when thoughts start to wander.

Using electroencephalograms (EEGs) to measure brain activity as more than two dozen study participants performed mundane attention tasks, the researchers identified brain signals associated with a dreamy mind.

They found that participants increased alpha brain waves in the prefrontal cortex as their thoughts jumped from subject to subject. Alpha waves are slow brain rhythms with a frequency ranging from 9 to 14 cycles per second.

The results provide an electrophysiological signature for free and spontaneous thinking, the researchers say.

They also found that participants had weaker brain signals called P3 in the parietal cortex when they were not paying attention to the task at hand. The study was published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“For the first time, we have neurophysiological evidence that distinguishes different internal thought patterns, allowing us to understand varieties of thought essential to human cognition and to compare between healthy and disordered thinking,” studies lead author Robert Knight , professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of California at Berkeley, said in an academic press release.

The results suggest that it is necessary to disconnect from the outside world and allow your thoughts to flow freely and creatively to promote relaxation and exploration of the mind, according to the researchers.

“If you focus on your goals all the time, you may miss out on important information. So having a free associative thinking process that randomly generates imaginative memories and experiences can lead you to new ideas and perspectives, ”said Zachary, co-author of the study. Irving, assistant professor of philosophy at the University of Virginia.

“The minds of babies and toddlers seem to be constantly wandering around, so we wondered what functions might serve,” said Alison Gopnik, study co-author, developmental psychologist and philosophy specialist at UC. Berkeley. “Our article suggests that mental wandering is as much a positive characteristic of cognition as it is an oddity, and explains something we all experience.”

More information

The National Endowment for the Arts in the United States is more dedicated to creative thinking.

SOURCE: University of California, Berkeley, press release, January 18, 2021

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