Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Reboot, reset, your brain - take a break - a walk, or better, a vacation.

I've done a number of posts on the attentional and default modes of our brain (in fact, I'm doing on a talk on this topic today at the Physics Department's chaos and complexity seminar series at the Univ. of Wisconsin.) I wanted to point to a number of recent popular articles pointing out how important it is for us to be able to detach from our attentional mode constantly processing overwhelming input streams of email, media, work demands, etc. While this more focused attentional mode tends to get a better press than the mind-wandering default mode, it is the latter state in which novel, spontaneous, and creative connections are likely to be made. Levitin does a NYTimes essay that notes the real world relevance of his 2008 publication on switching between central executive and default-mode networks, and notes that we should beware of the 'false break' in which we in fact remain attentive to email and other customary inputs, thus blocking real disengagement and mind wandering. Anna North and Gretchen Reynolds each do articles reinforcing this idea and point to articles studying the boosts in creativity and productivity that can accompany just taking a long walk or break.

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