Don’t Be Afraid To Reflect or Daydream — It’s Critical For Health and Well-Being_Featured_, Consciousness Thursday, October 11th, 2012
Marco Torres | Waking Times
Many have speculated that our consciousness is activated during daydreaming. Past research has shown that the brain seems to contain a “default mode” in which certain regions become more active at rest. While moments for reflection may be hard to come by, a new study suggests that the long-lost art of introspection — even daydreaming — may be an increasingly valuable part of socioemotional functioning.
In the article, published in the July issue of Perspectives on Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, psychological scientist Mary Helen Immordino-Yang and colleagues survey the existing scientific literature from neuroscience and psychological science, exploring what it means when our brains are ‘at rest.’
In recent years, researchers have explored the idea of rest by looking at the so-called ‘default mode’ network of the brain, a network that is noticeably active when we are resting and focused inward. Findings from these studies suggest that individual differences in brain activity during rest are correlated with components of socioemotional functioning, such as self-awareness and moral judgment, as well as different aspects of learning and memory. Immordino-Yang and her colleagues believe that research on the brain at rest can yield important insights into the importance of reflection and quiet time for learning.
The default mode network generally increases its activity when the brain is at rest, then drops in activity once people are called to a certain task, whether it be work, watching television, or simply communicating with another person. In a similar way a person could be daydreaming or following a stream of consciousness, but those activities would be zapped away as soon as the person was called to action, even by a simple sound.
“We focus on the outside world in education and don’t look much at inwardly focused reflective skills and attentions, but inward focus impacts the way we build memories, make meaning and transfer that learning into new contexts,” says Immordino-Yang, a professor of education, psychology and neuroscience at the University of Southern California. “What are we doing in schools to support kids turning inward?”
A 2009 University of British Columbia study confirmed that while daydreaming, the brain recruits complex regions of the brain, including the “executive network,” which is associated with complex problem solving and which, as the “executive” moniker indicates, is the command center of the brain…