SINGAPORE: Daydreamers often get rapped for being inattentive. But now, researchers have linked this tendency to let the mind wander to greater intellectual and creative abilities than those who do not daydream.
Co-author Associate Professor Eric Schumacher at the Georgia Institute of Technology said in a Live Science article: "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”.
In the study, which was published in the journal Neuropsychologia on Oct 24, the researchers scanned more than 100 participants’ brain activities using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) as they focused on a single point in front of them for five minutes. Next, they answered a questionnaire on how often they daydream.
When the researchers compared the results, they found that those who daydreamed more frequently had more efficient brain systems as indicated on their MRI scans than those who did not.
Lead co-author Christine Godwin, a PhD candidate from Georgia Institute of Technology, said: "The correlated brain regions gave us insight about which areas of the brain work together during an awake, resting state. Interestingly, research has suggested that these same brain patterns measured during these states are related to different cognitive abilities."
According to the researchers, a more efficient brain can perform easy tasks and still have the capacity to drift off. Someone with an efficient brain typically can zone in and out of conversations without missing any points, cited the Live Science article.
"People tend to think of mind wandering as something that is bad. You try to pay attention, and you can't," Prof Schumacher said in the article. "Our data are consistent with the idea that this isn't always true. Some people have more efficient brains."
The findings may help researchers further understand when daydreaming is useful and when it’s not.