Default Mode Network

We need down-time to have a strong brain.

Our brains need down-time to work best. When we are meditating, daydreaming, or staring out the window, our brains are not sleeping (Whitfield-Gabrieli and Ford, 2012). Instead, a whole new network of brain areas turn on when our minds wander or when we turn our attention to planning, feeling, or considering. At the same time, our ‘on-task’ areas take a little nap. This collection of brain areas is called the default mode network because it's what our brain defaults to when we're not directing its activity (Immordino-Yang, Christodoulou, and Singh, 2012; Raichle, 2010). It turns out that the strength of our default mode network is directly related to both our ability to learn and our emotional, and psychological health. When the default mode is weak, poorly connected with other brain regions, or unable to toggle on/off effectively, we may be faced with mental illnesses like depression, ADHD, autism, and schizophrenia. New research indicates that we can actively work to strengthen our default mode network and possibly avoid or treat the potential consequences associated with atypical default mode network activity.

Watch a video about the Default Mode Network

Watch a video about a Nobel Laureate's wandering mind.

Julia Volkman,
Dec 30, 2012, 7:09 PM