Yes, Daydreamers Are Smarter
Did a teacher ever call you out for daydreaming? Did your boss? Turns out, you’re not a slacker after all. You’re smart, creative, and your mind wanders because you may have extra brain capacity.
As part of a new brain study conducted by the Georgia Institute of Technology, participants lay in an MRI machine and concentrated on a stationary fixation point for five minutes while the subjects’ brain patterns were measured. The data obtained showed which parts of the brain worked in unison while the subjects were in an awake, resting state. The results indicated these same brain patterns relate to different cognitive abilities. Participants were tested for intellectual and creative ability as well and were given a questionnaire to determine how much their mind tends to wander during their daily lives.
The results showed when the MRI machine identified participants whose functional connectivity within and between brain networks to be more efficient, they also scored higher on intellectual and creative ability testing. These participants also reported that they daydreamed more frequently.
The study validated what we’ve suspected happens when school children are more advanced than their classwork. They tend to zone out when they’re bored, but they sit up and pay attention when necessary. Said Eric Schumacher, the Georgia Tech associate psychology professor who co-authored the study, “While it may take five minutes for their friends to learn something new, they figure it out in a minute, then check out and start daydreaming.”
The paper, “Functional connectivity within and between intrinsic brain networks correlates with trait mind wandering,” is published in Neuropsychologia, a peer-reviewed scientific journal that focuses on cognitive neuroscience.
Of course, mind dreaming has a long and laudatory tradition. It was Edgar Allan Poe who said, “Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night.” Young Isaac Newton was supposedly daydreaming under an apple tree when he was hit on the head by falling apples, which led to the discovery of the law of gravitation.
And, to the surprise of no one, George Lucas once said, “I’m not much of a math and science guy. I spent most of my time in school daydreaming and managed to turn it into a living. When I was making ‘Star Wars,’ I wasn't restrained by any kind of science. I simply said, ‘I'm going to create a world that's fun and interesting, makes sense, and seems to have a reality to it.’"
Yes, sir. You did, and we’re grateful. "Truly wonderful the mind of a child is."