Reminiscing can help boost mental performance

ISLAMABAD: Engaging brain areas linked to so-called ‘off- task’ mental activities can actually boost performance on some challenging mental tasks, a new research led by a neuroscientist shows for the first.

To solve a mental puzzle, the brain’s executive control network for externally focused, goal-oriented thinking must activate, while the network for internally directed thinking like daydreaming must be turned down to avoid interference, ScienceDaily reported.

New research led by Cornell University neuroscientist Nathan Spreng advance our understanding of how externally and internally focused neural networks interact to facilitate complex thought.

“The prevailing view is that activating brain regions referred to as the default network impairs performance on attention-demanding tasks because this network is associated with behaviors such as mind-wandering,” said Spreng. “Our study is the first to demonstrate the opposite – that engaging the default network can also improve performance.”

Spreng and his team developed a new approach in which off-task processes such as reminiscing can support rather than conflict with the aims of the experimental task.