Does your mind wander? During a class or meeting, do you find yourself staring out the window and thinking about what you’ll do tomorrow or next week? As a child, were you constantly reminded by teachers to stop daydreaming?
Well, psychological research is beginning to reveal that daydreaming is a strong indicator of an active and well-equipped brain. Tell that to your third-grade teacher.
A new study, published in Psychological Science by researchers from the University of Wisconsin and the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Science, suggests that a wandering mind correlates with higher degrees of what is referred to as working memory. Cognitive scientists define this type of memory as the brain’s ability to retain and recall information in the face of distractions.
For example, imagine that, when leaving a friend ‘s house, you promise to call when you get home safely. On the way, you stop to buy gas and a few groceries, and then drive by a car accident and get out to see if anyone needs help. Finally, when you get to your house, you remember to call your friend. The ability to do this depends on the brain’s working memory system…