Researchers have found that your brain is still hard at work long after
you’ve checked out for some rest and relaxation.
Cognitive neuroscientist Lila Davachi, from New York University,
found that a resting brain, even if still awake, is constantly performing meaningful functions. She added that taking a short recess may actually help contribute to work or school performance.
Her study was conducted with 16 participants who each underwent initial brain scans using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Then participants were shown pictures containing pairs of objects and were instructed to envision interactions between them. After a few minutes rest, another scan was done. The test was done repeatedly with new faces and objects being shown each time. Finally, the participants were given a quiz designed to measure their recollection of the pictures.
Comparing the results of the scans before and after the experiment,
researchers found a higher level of correlation of brain activity after
looking at the images than before. The more brain activity going on during rest after looking at the images, the better a participant did on the quiz.
Other researchers have found similar results. At Washington University in St. Louis, neurologist Maurizio Corbetta conducted a study with 14 participants. They used their peripheral vision to locate a hidden inverted T pattern on a screen which flashed briefly before them. Then after resting for an hour, they underwent an fMRI brain scan. Corbetta’s team found that those with strongly related brain activity were best at locating the hidden pattern.
So, what’s it mean to you? Your brain is at work – even when you’ve zoned out. These studies show that your brain is capable of consolidating memories so that you remember more and perform better. Next time you’re learning something new, remember to take a quick rest afterward and give your brain a chance to take it all in.
Dulce Corazon is a licensed medical technologist and full time freelance writer. Along with writing for BrainTraining101.com, she serves as a contributing author for several health-related websites.