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Culture & Religion

Daydreaming: Distraction or Inspiration?

The emergence of neuroscience has shown researchers what happens to our brains when we daydream. Neither good nor bad in itself, daydreaming seems to be our default setting.

What’s the Latest Development?

Daydreaming, or letting your mind wander, is neither a sign of a hopelessly distracted student or a creative genius. What neurological studies of daydreaming tell us is that our minds default to wandering and that states like concentration emerge when we need to understand the world immediately around us. When reading a book or taking an exam, our internal chatter grows quiet so that we can concentrate on something other than ourselves, which is an important social and biological survival tool.

What’s the Big Idea?

Before neuroscience emerged, psychologists classified daydreaming into three categories which still hold today: “Positive-Constructive Daydreaming (representing playful, wishful and constructive imagery), Guilty-Dysphoric Daydreaming (representing obsessive, anguished fantasies), and Poor Attentional Control (representing the inability to concentrate on ongoing thought or external tasks).” While each person is given to each kind of daydreaming, the three categories broadly correlated to personality types.

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