Ever driven a long distance and been shocked to arrive at your destination with no memory of the trip itself? Turns out a wandering mind is nothing to worry about, and that daydreaming may, in fact, be linked to a brain mechanism that spares you from focusing on the daily grind.
A new study sheds further light on the little-known workings of the brain’s default mode network (DMN), a group of interconnected brain regions believed to be responsible for daydreaming and mind wandering. Its results provide compelling evidence that, in addition to helping spur “eureka” moments in well-known daydreamers from Einstein to Archimedes, the DMN plays an integral role in our ability to perform tasks on autopilot, allowing us to guess likely outcomes ahead of time, and thus devote fewer mental resources to mundane tasks.
This is the age of the smartphone. Studies show that people spend over four hours a day on their smartphones – while walking the dog, boarding the bus, ordering coffee, watching television. Sixty-nine percent of people even admit to using their smartphones in the bathroom. (And come on, we all know that’s low.) This is nearly double the time people spent on their smartphones in 2012, with use continuing to rise.
In addition to the future of human social interaction, there’s another less obvious issue with excessive cellphone use, according to Manoush Zomorodi, author of the new book Bored and Brilliant: How Spacing Out Can Unlock Your Most Productive and Creative Self. With all this distraction constantly at our literal fingertips, people no longer get bored. And according to Zomorodi and a host of scientists, that’s a big problem.