Scientists are starting to realize that daydreaming can be a tool for creativity. Apparently during periods of boredom (i.e. conducting a repetitive work task, routine driving on the motorway) our brains return to what is described as the “default network”; a trancelike/daydreaming state which we are only just starting to understand.
“Instead of responding to the outside world, the brain starts to contemplate its internal landscape. This is when new and creative connections are made between seemingly unrelated ideas.”
One research assistant started looking into the subject when she noticed how uncreative a class of primary students’ story writing was;
“The tales tended to be very tedious and unimaginative,” Belton says, “as if the children were stuck with this very restricted way of thinking. Even when they were encouraged to think creatively, they didn’t really know how.”
Most of her subjects rarely, if ever, experienced significant periods of boredom at home or in school. As soon as they felt the first pang of tedium, the TV went on and they never got to spend any time in the default network.
Any firm link between TV watching and a lack of creativity has still not been proven but there are a number of studies started and on the horizon that aim to examine the issue.
“In a forthcoming paper, Schooler’s lab has shown that people who engage in more daydreaming score higher on experimental measures of creativity, which require people to make a set of unusual connections. “
It’s a worrying thought that our children might be growing up with a lack of originality because of the constant stream of entertainment available to them nowadays.