behavior · brain · creativity · learning · mental health · neuroscience · psychology

The Benefits of Daydreaming

English: Rêverie (Daydream)

I am a HUGE fan of Jonah Lehrer and his exploration of science and psychology, so I was thrilled to see his new article in the New Yorker about how important it is for us to daydream (which is a big part of make-believe play).

Humans are a daydreaming species. According to a recent study led by the Harvard psychologists Daniel Gilbert and Matthew A. Killingsworth, people let their minds wander forty-seven per cent of the time they are awake. (The scientists demonstrated this by developing an iPhone app that contacted twenty-two hundred and fifty volunteers at random intervals during the day.) In fact, the only activity during which we report that our minds are not constantly wandering is “love making.” We’re able to focus for that.

At first glance, such data seems like a confirmation of our inherent laziness. In a culture obsessed with efficiency, mind-wandering is often derided as useless—the kind of thinking we rely on when we don’t really want to think. Freud, for instance, described daydreams as “infantile” and a means of escaping from the necessary chores of the world into fantasies of “wish-fulfillment.”

In recent years, however, psychologists and neuroscientists have redeemed this mental state, revealing the ways in which mind-wandering is an essential cognitive tool. It turns out that whenever we are slightly bored—when reality isn’t quite enough for us—we begin exploring our own associations, contemplating counterfactuals and fictive scenarios that only exist within the head.

Read more http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/frontal-cortex/2012/06/the-virtues-of-daydreaming.html#ixzz1wwmMkzFa

We all need a chance to let our brains wander and make connections and just absorb and process what we’ve been experiencing. It’s a mental health issue as much as an intelligence issue in my book. There are lots of stories (not all of them 100% true, but still useful), of scientists struggling with a problem, going outside to take a break and daydream on it, and *BAM* problem suddenly solved!

Do you give yourself a chance to daydream? Have you had one of those “aha” moments due to daydreaming? Leave a note about your experiences in the comments below.

behavior · disease · health · neuroscience · play

How exercise affects the brain: Age and genetics play a role

Supervised physical therapy may be helpful to ...
Exercise effects the brain in multiple ways. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From Science Daily:

Exercise clears the mind. It gets the blood pumping and more oxygen is delivered to the brain. This is familiar territory, but Dartmouth’s David Bucci thinks there is much more going on.

“In the last several years there have been data suggesting that neurobiological changes are happening — [there are] very brain-specific mechanisms at work here,” says Bucci, an associate professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences.

From his studies, Bucci and his collaborators have revealed important new findings:

The effects of exercise are different on memory as well as on the brain, depending on whether the exerciser is an adolescent or an adult.

A gene has been identified which seems to mediate the degree to which exercise has a beneficial effect. This has implications for the potential use of exercise as an intervention for mental illness.

more via How exercise affects the brain: Age and genetics play a role.

anthropology · brain · creativity · Mental · neuroscience · psychology

The Evolving Minds Of Humans : NPR

 

 

Where do we get artistic ideas and inclinations? What is it about the brain that makes us like art? Neurologist Antonio Damasio writes about his ideas why in his new book, Self Comes to Mind.

In his new book, Self Comes To Mind, neurologist Antonio Damasio argues that consciousness gave humans an evolutionary advantage. Damasio describes the differences between self and mind, and traces the evolutionary path of the human brain.

Where do we get the ability to create works of art, to be moved by a piece of beautiful music or to feel bad when someone says something hurtful?

via The Evolving Minds Of Humans : NPR.

His main focus is on consciousness, but touches on the idea of creativity, new thinking, and artistic desires as part of our evolution as humans.