Most of us can relate to actively working our brain during tasks such as studying for an exam, or doing a physical work-out.  Have you ever thought about what is happening in the brain when we are “zoning out or just plain day dreaming?”

Well over the past couple of decades research has gone into what is know as the brains default mode network.  It turns out there are areas of the brain that get activated when we are seemingly “not doing much at all”.  The discovery of this default network has prompted researchers into exploring the different brain networks.  When looking at scans of brains activity they found that certain areas are activated when performing tasks and at the same time other areas dialed back their activity.  It was as if these areas were active when the person was not doing anything and then turned off when the mind had to concentrate on something external. They call these areas task negative or (default mode network) as I mentioned above. 

So when researchers scanned the brain while asking individuals to just close their eyes and let their minds wander these default mode areas used more energy than other areas of the brain. It is felt that the experience of mind wandering and activating these areas can help with memories of past experiences. 

Now the different networks of the brain don’t work independently but orchestrate together to produce harmony with each other.  So this default network not only deals with mind wandering and remembering past experiences; but is also involved in activities such as envisioning the future and processing language. 

Now to be clear there are many networks within the brain that work together.  Ongoing research is looking at when the brains different networks are not working together properly it may be associated with increase in depressive disorders, and neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.  The key take away is that letting our mind wander or day dreaming is just as beneficial to our brains health as actively concentrating on tasks.

Simple Sustainable Health is Yours!

Cherri Schleicher FNPc APNP FMCHC
C&S Holistic Family Health and Wellness

Morning Tips to Wake Your Brain

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