(Natural News) Do you find your mind wandering at work? New research reveals that daydreaming is not actually bad; instead it is a sign that you are smart and creative, as reported by the Science Daily.
“People tend to think of mind wandering as something that is bad. You try to pay attention and you can’t,” said Eric Schumacher, an associate psychology professor and one of the authors of the study.
Researchers at Georgia Institute of Technology evaluated the brain patterns of more than 100 individuals with the use of MRI scans. The subjects were asked to focus on a fixed point for five minutes while they lay in an MRI machine. Then, the team of researchers used the data to spot which parts of the brain worked together.
“The correlated brain regions gave us insight about which areas of the brain work together during an awake, resting state,” said Christine Godwin, another author of the study.
The participants also took tests that measured their intellectual and creative ability. In addition, they answered a survey on how much their mind wandered everyday.
After the researchers analyzed all the data gathered, they found that the individuals who reported to daydream more often had higher scores on the intellectual and creative ability tests compared to those who daydreamed less. Furthermore, the researchers discovered that participants whose minds wandered more frequently had more efficient brain systems based on the MRI scans results.
“People with efficient brains may have too much brain capacity to stop their minds from wandering,” Schumacher said.
He explained that greater brain efficiency means more capacity to think, and the mind may wander when accomplishing simple tasks. Zoning in and out of conversations or tasks when proper, and then naturally tuning back in without missing crucial points or steps is a sign of an efficient brain.
According to the researchers, the results can be compared to an absent-minded professor who is intelligent, but has his or her own world, or is sometimes unaware to his or her own surroundings. The findings can also be likened to school children who learn something new easier and faster than the others, then zone out and their minds start to wander. These are the students who are too intellectually advanced for their classes.
However, Godwin noted that there are crucial individual differences to also think about, such as the motivation of a person or his or her intention to stay focused on a specific task.
The researchers believed that their study opens the door for future research to better understand when daydreaming is detrimental and when it may actually be beneficial.
The findings of the study was published in the journal Neuropsychologia.
Daydreaming allows you to do tasks on autopilot
Another study found another benefit of daydreaming, according to The Daily Mail. The new study suggested that being in autopilot is helpful when accomplishing routine tasks. Researchers from the University of Cambridge analyzed the brain activities of 28 participants under an MRI scanner. The individuals were presented with four cards and asked to match a target card to one of these cards. There were three possible rules: matching by color, shape, or number, but the participants were not told about this. Instead, they had to figure it out through trial and error.
Results revealed that in the acquisition stage of the task, the dorsal attention network of the brain, which is linked with the processing of attention-demanding information, was more active. On the other hand, during the application stage, where participants applied the learned rules, the default mode network (DMN) was more active.
“It [DMN] is essentially like an autopilot that helps us make fast decisions when we know what the rules of the environment are,” said Deniz Vatansever, lead author of the study.
The researchers believed that the DMN allows a person to perform tasks without having to exert extra time and effort into each decision. (Related: Memo from your brain: Please excuse this disruption in service.)
Read more at Mind.news.