Did you ever get yourself in hot water by daydreaming during class or even during an important meeting at work? Maybe now you can tell them that your daydreaming could be a sign of your great intelligence and also creativity – at least this is what a new study has discovered.
Daydreaming May Actually Be a Good Thing
During this study, a research team looked specifically at how the urge to allow your mind wander during your daily life could be connected directly your cognitive skills and abilities. We all know that daydreamers often get hammered for being inattentive or distracted, but these findings imply that those who daydream often have higher intellectual and higher creative abilities than people who do not daydream regularly.
“Our findings remind me of the absent-minded professor — someone who’s brilliant, but off in his or her own world, sometimes oblivious to their own surroundings, or schoolchildren who are too intellectually advanced for their classes,” commented Eric Schumacher, who is a psychology professor from the Georgia Institute of Technology, and is the study’s co-author. “While it may take five minutes for their friends to learn something new, they figure it out in a minute, then check out and start daydreaming.”
Evaluated Over 100 People as They Daydreamed
These scientists actually measured brain activities of over 100 people that had been asked to focus their minds on one single point located right in front of them for 5 minutes as they lay inside an MRI machine. These tests uncovered the regions of the brain that actually worked together while in a “awake resting state” — to put this another way, in a daydreaming state.
Even though there are some areas of the brain that work independently, other areas need to work with each other in order to complete a task. One common network of these interacting brain areas is known as a “default mode network,” and is extremely active during the time when a person daydreams.
After that, the study participants were requested to undergo a test that served to measure their creative and intellectual abilities, and then they answered a questionnaire to ascertain exactly how often that their mind actually wandered in their daily lives.
After the scientists compared and evaluated the data, they discovered that those participants who claimed to daydream the most actually got higher scores on their intellectual and creative ability tests and also had “more efficient” brain processes as evaluated by the MRI machine. This was often they were compared to those people who claimed to daydream less often, and these people also had “less efficient” brains via the MRI.
More efficient brain processes actually indicate a higher capacity to think, which often leads the mind to wander as they perform simple tasks, researchers have said. One common sign of a highly efficient brain is when they have the ability to drift in and out of discussions and never missing a beat.
“People tend to think of mind wandering as something that is bad. You try to pay attention, and you can’t,” Schumacher stated. “Our data are consistent with the idea that this isn’t always true. Some people have more efficient brains.”
But there are also some are other things to consider as well, like the motivation of a person to remain focused on a specific task. The scientists claimed that more research would be required to enhance our understanding of whether daydreaming is helpful or harmful.