Daydreaming: revealing intelligence

A more complex models evolve in the field of consciousness, as the technology progresses, new studies shed new light on the connection between daydreaming and intelligence.

What is daydreaming?

 New studies suggest that daydreaming is a different state of consciousness, it does not fall into hypnosis, because the subject is not necessarily suggestible and not meditative because the subject may or may not experience insights.

So what is it?

Mainly it is a state where the mind is simply wandering, exploring and analyzing many thoughts  at once while being awake.

What triggers it ?

Usually it is triggered by boredom and / or loneliness .

We've all been there: You're at a dull work meeting or presentation, and your mind keeps wandering—to what to eat for lunch, your weekend plans, or if you should change your car and why.

Is it a good thing or a bad thing?

if you are having such experience give yourself a round of applause because a new study published in journal Neuropsychoelogia,  suggests that Mind-wandering may be a sign of intelligence and creativity. 

As long as your performance at work or wherever you are, does not suffer when your mind drifts, daydreaming may not be such a bad thing after all, the study authors say.

How the research was done?

Researchers at Georgia Institute of Technology studied what happens to people’s brain patterns when they’re told to lie still and do nothing,  (creating an opportunity for boredom and loneliness) inside an MRI machine. 

112 study participants filled out a questionnaire about how much their mind wandered in daily life then were asked to lay in an MRI machine for 5 minutes  doing nothing while staying awake.

The research team used those readings to identify which parts of the brain worked together during this type of awake but resting state, and they also compared the readings to measure their creative and intellectual abilities. 

Research Results?

The researchers made several interesting connections. People who reported more frequent daydreaming during the day scored higher on creative and intellectual tests. 

Their MRIs also showed they had more efficient brain systems—meaning different regions of the brain were more in sync with each other—compared to people who reported less frequent mind-wandering.

What Previous research say?

Previous research has linked mind-wandering to poorer performance on memory and reading-comprehension tests, lower SAT scores, negative mood, and mental-health disorders (ADHD).

Other research has also suggested that daydreaming (along with night dreaming) may help people become better problem-solvers, and that daydreaming about the future “can be particularly beneficial in preparing individuals to obtain their upcoming goals,” the authors wrote in their paper.

What the experts says?

The finding that mind-wandering is associated with intelligence was somewhat surprising, says lead author Christine Godwin, a psychology PhD candidate.

“But when you think about the possibility that mind-wandering can potentially be helpful at times for cognitive through processes—or at least not directly harmful—it makes sense,” 

The study didn’t measure whether people with more efficient brain processes—and more mind-wandering tendencies—required less brainpower to complete certain tasks. But, Godwin says, “it’s an inference we can start to make, especially since mind-wandering was correlated with intelligence, as well.”

“Some other research indicates that people who have high cognitive abilities are able to mind wander during easy tasks simply because they can—because they have extra brain capacity so to speak, and may be more efficient in their cognitive processes,” she adds. (If you can zone out of conversation or tasks and tune back in for the important parts, then congrats: That’s a sign of efficiency, the authors say.)

“The popular perception is that mind-wandering is bad and it’s harmful and you want to try to avoid it,” says Godwin. “And that’s certainly the case oftentimes; if you’re not paying attention to a complex task, your performance is probably going to suffer.”

One example may be driving a car: While driving should require one’s full attention, it’s common for people to drift off in thought, especially if they follow the same route every day or find themselves on a long, monotonous stretch of road. Distracted drivers are a major source of traffic accidents and deaths, studies report, although some researchers say it’s still unclear how dangerous it is to daydream while driving.

There can be times, however, that mind-wandering does not impair performance— like when a person is completing a simple and low-risk task that’s done largely from memory, like folding laundry. “In those cases, it’s okay to embrace mind-wandering,” she says, “and the research suggests there may be some benefits to creativity and working memory and intelligence, as well.”

Dr. Godwin still recommends that people try to be mindful of tasks that require a lot of brainpower, and to be cognizant of whether their performance slips when their attention starts to drift elsewhere. “If you notice that’s happening, you may need to address that by taking a break or having something to eat—anything to help you get back on track, so you can stay focused now and let your mind wander later.”