Tag Archives: creativity

Do daydreamers have more efficient brains? – MNT

Must confess I have had a problem with daydreaming in my youth, particularly in school. So, this news from Medical News Today gave me something I could throw back at those teachers who chided me as a child.

Daydreaming is often associated with a reduced capacity to focus on a task at hand, and people who allow their minds to wander may be regarded as uninvolved, or as having “their head in the clouds.”

One study found that people’s minds tend to wander for almost half of their waking day, and the researchers behind it suggested that daydreaming could render us unhappy as our thoughts tend to drift toward negative scenarios.

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Yet could people who daydream more than most actually have an advantage?

New research led by Dr. Eric Schumacher and doctoral student Christine Godwin, from the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, seems to indicate that daydreamers have very active brains, and that they may be more intelligent and creative than the average person.

“People with efficient brains,” explains Dr. Schumacher, “may have too much brain capacity to stop their minds from wandering.”

The study’s findings were recently published in the journal Neuropsychologia.

Cognitive ability and DMN connectivity

The default mode network (DMN) of the brain — that is, the neural connectivity that is visibly active even when the brain is otherwise at rest — has previously been linked to daydreaming.

In the new study, the researchers were interested in finding out whether the particular dynamics of the DMN in daydreamers, and this network’s communication with other parts of the brain during mind wandering, correlated with heightened cognitive abilities.

Dr. Schumacher and his team worked with 112 participants who were subjected both to MRI scans and to tests targeting cognitive performance.

During the scan, the participants were asked to look at a fixed point for 5 minutes, during which time the researchers monitored their DMN activity. They also investigated how DMN activity correlated with other brain regions in a resting state.

“The correlated brain regions gave us insight about which areas of the brain work together during an awake, resting state,” says Godwin.

This was important, she added, because “research has suggested that these same brain patterns measured during these states are related to different cognitive abilities.”

The data from the MRI scans were paired with information derived from tasks aimed to measure the participants’ intellectual abilities and creativity. They were asked to respond to a mind wandering questionnaire.

It was found that participants who said that they spent a lot of time daydreaming performed better in the cognitive tasks. Their MRI scans also showed heightened activity in regions connected with learning and memory.

The scans confirmed that DMN activity was tied to mind wandering. Daydreaming also correlated with connectivity between the DMN and the frontoparietal control network of the brain, which has been associated with cognitive control, or adaptability to different situations, and working memory.

Efficient brains and wandering attention

Dr. Schumacher says that these findings suggest that daydreaming may not deserve the stigma attached to it, after all.

“People tend to think of mind wandering as something that is bad. You try to pay attention and you can’t. Our data are consistent with the idea that this isn’t always true. Some people have more efficient brains.” Dr. Eric Schumacher

He adds that daydreamers with a heightened cognitive performance will most likely be able to tune themselves out of discussions or presentations without, in fact, losing the thread of the argument.

“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,” says Dr. Schumacher.

“Or,” he adds, “school children who are too intellectually advanced for their classes. While it may take 5 minutes for their friends to learn something new, they figure it out in a minute, then check out and start daydreaming.”

However, the researchers think that more studies are needed to investigate both the positive and potentially negative aspects of daydreaming.

“There are important individual differences to consider as well, such as a person’s motivation or intent to stay focused on a particular task,” Godwin concludes.

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Filed under aging brain, brain, brain function, brain health, daydreaming

Another Favorite – Visual Mind Games

At the risk or appearing like I am selling out on my idea of protecting my brain by exercising regularly, I would like to suggest this fun pastime as an additional line of defense against cognitive impairment.

I wrote this for another blog I write occasionally and thought it would be of interest to you. I know a lot of folks are doing adult coloring books these days for relaxation. I thought these puzzles would be a nice step up that could be more challenging to the imagination.

Tony

Willing Wheeling

I ran across these at an art fair years ago. They are wonderful brightly colored shapes that you get to remake into various geometric visions. You can see more at the website of Kadon Enterprises, Inc. Kadon says that the creation of tiling patterns is an ancient and still very popular art form and recreation. “In quilting designs, floor tiles and wallpaper patterns, we find geometric shapes that fit together in attractive, usually symmetrical arrangements.”

There is a wonderful brochure that comes with each puzzle that explains some of the relationships between the angles and gets into the math of it.

Although I have only pictured two, I hope you can see how multi-faceted this is. I spend many happy hours exploring this and many of their other puzzles.

I used these two shots so you could see the simplest variation. The tiles are acrylic and fit into place perfectly.

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Filed under aging, aging brain, brain, brain exercise, successful aging

7 Steps to Smarter Coffee Drinking – Infographic

First of all, bike riders are notorious coffee drinkers. Although I ride a bike plenty, I am not one of the caffeine crazies. However, I did just write a post on cold-brewed coffee. My daily consumption comes to little more than two cups a day. Draw your own conclusions. I just ran across this infographic and thought it had a lot of good information on the subject.

Here’s a fun little caffeine fact: Caffeine was on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) list of prohibited substances for many years. Athletes who tested positive for more than 12 micrograms of caffeine per milliliter of urine could be banned from the Olympic Games. This level can be reached after drinking about 5 cups of coffee. However, the IOC REMOVED caffeine from the banned list in 2004. Caffeine was taken off of the list of banned substances so that athletes who drink cola or coffee are not penalized.

Lifehacker-Coffee-guide.jpg

 

Tony

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How the Brain Benefits from Exercise – Infographic

I feel strongly that the importance of exercise to the brain is largely overlooked in the world of fitness. The following are from just 20 minutes of exercise.

To read much more on this, check out my Page – Important Facts About Your Brain (and Exercise Benefits).

TrRwfye

Tony

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