The Science of Daydreaming

We all have been in a bizarre state of mind, where our minds escape the present and we find ourselves daydreaming, worrying or fantasizing.
Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis defined daydreaming as a tool to experience repressed desires and instincts that weren’t acceptable in our waking world. Makes sense! We are often imagining ourselves with people we can’t meet and in places we can’t visit.

What makes me curious is how does the human brain function this way? What causes these dreams in broad daylight?

Scientists say daydreams are the altered state of one’s consciousness. The levels of consciousness or alertness keep changing throughout the day, because the brain works in mysterious ways and often we don’t have any control over it. Daydreams make us move to altered world of consciousness almost instantly. We can quickly shift from alert consciousness to wandering daydream within seconds. Woah!

Is your brain sleeping while you’re awake? Studies state that parts of our doze of even when we are wide awake. Our brains are forced to do jobs much different than those for which it was originally programmed for. This is the reason the brain enters in a different state of wakefulness.

Psychology explains this concept in the following manner:

Daydreams do not completely isolate us from the outside world but instead we tend to focus a little more than usual on our thoughts and imagined experiences. There are certain parts of the brain which start working the moment you stop paying attention on the task at hand, or while doing something that doesn’t need concentration. Those certain parts of the brain are the limbic system, frontal cortex, and sensory cortexes. Daydreams can sometimes incorporate sensory details as well- like imagining the smell of the perfume or taste of our favorite dish.

A psychological term for this effect of detachment, of turning away from reality, this form of escapism is dissociation.

Your brain, not your mind, controls your daydreams. We often confuse with the two terms. Let’s take a simple example of computer- software and hardware. Brain’s the hardware and our mind is the software.

Although daydreaming is often considered a waste of time but research proves it to be beneficial. Daydreaming is proved to be an indicator of a strong, active brain and daydreamers are better at retaining information.

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