Daydreamers are often smarter

Thought-out times speak for creativity and high cognitive capacity

Lost daydreaming can be a sign that the brain has a lot of spare capacity. © agsandrew / thinkstock
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Wandering thoughts: Those who often find themselves daydreaming, do not have to worry - on the contrary. For the thoughtless digression can be a sign of high intelligence and creativity, as revealed by a study. Researchers found a close connection between the frequent daydreaming and a particularly good network of the brain. The day dreamers also performed particularly well in tests of cognitive performance and creativity.

Whether in a moderately exciting meeting, at school or on the way to work: Often we catch ourselves that our thoughts are completely different than in the here and now. For a long time, daydreaming was a sign of lack of concentration and attention. Especially parents are often worried when their children often dream lost in thought.

Brain areas more strongly networked

But as Christine Godwin of the Georgia Institute of Technology and her colleagues have now discovered, daydreaming is by no means negative - rather the opposite. For their study, they asked 100 subjects how often their thoughts drift away in everyday life. They were then given the task to fix a point for five minutes while their brain activity was recorded using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).

"The brain activity in this task gives us insight into which brain areas work together during the awake, relaxed state, " explains Godwin. It turned out that among the participants who reported frequent daydreaming, the default-mode network, which is important for attention, was particularly closely linked to the fronto-parietal control network - the area that controls our mental focus.

Areas of the Default Mode Network (DMN). You are very well networked with daydreamers with other brain centers. © John Graner / Walter Reed National Military Medical Center

Smarter and more creative?

"Interestingly, there is evidence that this pattern of linkage also plays a role in various cognitive abilities, " says Godwin. Therefore, the researchers then subjected their subjects to several standardized tests of so-called fluid intelligence - problem-solving, logical thinking - and creativity. display

The surprising result: The participants, who tended to frequent daytrums, performed better in these tests than their supposedly more concentrated co-subjects. "We have found significant positive correlations between the tendency to daydreaming and fluid intelligence and creativity, " Godwin and her colleagues report.

More efficient brain tends to drift off

"People tend to regard daydreaming as something bad. But our data shows that this need not be the case, "says Godwin's colleague Eric Schumacher. Instead, the brains of Tagtr umer simply seem to be particularly efficient: they can afford idle times because their brains have enough free capacity.

"This is reminiscent of an absent-minded professor - someone who is brilliant, but often seems to be absorbed in his own world, " says Schumacher. "Or particularly gifted schoolchildren: while their classmates need five minutes to learn something new, they understand after a minute and then start daydreaming."

Godwin and Schumacher want to explore the phenomenon of daytrume even further to find out when the digression of thoughts can be helpful and when it may have more negative consequences. "It seems clear that certain cases of daytime could be quite a positive sign, " say the researchers. (Neuropsychologia, 2017; doi: 10.1016 / j.neuropsychologia.2017.07.006)

(Georgia Institute of Technology, October 25, 2017 - NPO)