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Decoding Human Thoughts may help people with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Mind-wandering is typically characterised as thoughts that stray from what you're doing

Representational image. Flickr

Toronto, November 2, 2016: If you think your mind stops wandering when you’re doing nothing, think again. Canadian researchers have developed a new framework for understanding how human thoughts flow, even at rest and thus help people with various mental illness like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Mind-wandering is typically characterised as thoughts that stray from what you’re doing.

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“Mind-wandering is not an odd quirk of the mind. Rather, it’s something that the mind does when it enters into a spontaneous mode. Without this spontaneous mode, we couldn’t do things like dream or think creatively,” said lead author Kalina Christoff, Professor at University of British Columbia, Canada.

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The study published in the journal Nature Reviews Neuroscience proposed that the flow of thoughts is grounded in the interaction between different brain networks and flows freely when the mind is in its default state — mind-wandering. Yet two types of constraints — one automatic and the other deliberate — can curtail this spontaneous movement of thoughts.

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However, spontaneous thought processes — including mind wandering, but also creative thinking and dreaming — arise when thoughts are relatively free from these deliberate and automatic constraints, the researchers said.

“Understanding what makes thought free and what makes it constrained is crucial because it can help us understand how thoughts move in the minds of those diagnosed with mental illness,” Christoff said.

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“Everyone’s mind has a natural ebb and flow of thought, but our framework reconceptualises disorders like ADHD, depression and anxiety as extensions of that normal variation in thinking,” added Zachary Irving, postdoctoral scholar at the University of California, Berkeley.

According to Irving, “we all have someone with anxiety and ADHD in our minds. The anxious mind helps us focus on what’s personally important, whereas the ADHD mind allows us to think freely and creatively.” (IANS)

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Mind Wandering While Driving is Very Usual, Says New Research

A new George Mason University research reveals that mind wandering while driving is a very common phenomenon.

Mind Wandering while driving a very common phenomenon
Mind wandering may be an unavoidable part of the human brain. But how safe is mind-wandering while driving? Pixabay.
  • Mind wandering while driving is a very common phenomenon
  • According to a new research, one’s mind wanders almost 70% of the time while driving
  • Self-driven cars can help reduce chances of road accidents due to mind-wandering

Washington D.C., USA, September 2, 2017: Have you ever experienced mind wandering while you are driving? Imagine driving on a smooth road with minimum traffic density when suddenly some distraction happens and you lose control of your vehicle and your brain for few seconds.

Why does this happen? Have you ever realized that one reason could be that at the same time when one is physically driving, their mind is also riding in some different world?

A recent research by George Mason University revealed that an average person’s mind wanders 70% of the time while driving, says Carl Baldwin, a researcher involved in this research.

Of course, the research was not conducted during real-time driving on the road. The researchers used driving simulators and electro-physiological monitoring system to measure electrical activity in the brain.

In the five days long research, the volunteers were asked to complete a 20-minute driving simulation along a monotonous straight highway at a constant speed during which they were also hooked up to the electro-physiological monitor.

It was done to mimic a real-life scenario in an attempt to make the volunteers feel as if they were traveling to and from the work place. In between, they were asked to write down a written test, so as to include the mentally draining effect of the day’s work in the experiment.

The volunteers heard a buzzer at random intervals throughout the experiment. Every time the buzzer sounded, the tablet computer would indicate if participant’s mind had been wandering right before they heard the buzzer and if so, were they explicitly aware of this or not.

Scientists detected that human mind wanders during driving from the volunteer’s brain activity. As a result, it was found that while on the simulated drive, people’s mind wandered 70% of the time. Interestingly, the study found that the volunteer’s minds wandered more during the second drive of the simulation i.e. when they drove back home from office. And, on an average, they were aware of their wandering mind only 65% of the time, says Carl Baldwin, a researcher involved in this research.

“We were able to detect periods of mind wandering through distinctive electro-physiological brain patterns, some of which indicated that the drivers were likely less receptive to external stimuli,” says Baldwin.

Beware! Mind wandering during driving can lead to dangerous road accidents.

One option that can improve safety on road in future is an autonomous transport system. A self-driving car is an example of it. These cars would allow one to do mind wandering when it is safe to do so but would re-engage one back in driving when one needs to pay attention.

-prepared by Shivani Chowdhary of NewsGram. Twitter handle: @cshivani31