Catch yourself daydreaming while washing the dishes again? If this happens often you
probably have a pretty capable working memory, new research suggests.
This mind wandering, it seems, actually gives your working memory a workout. Working
memory is the mental work space that allows the brain to juggle multiple thoughts
simultaneously. The more working memory a person has, the more daydreaming they can do
without forgetting the task at hand.
"Our results suggest that the sorts of planning that people do quite often in daily
life — when they’re on the bus, when they’re cycling to work, when they’re in the
shower — are probably supported by working memory," study researcher Jonathan Smallwood,
of the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Science, said in a statement.
"Their brains are trying to allocate resources to the most pressing problems."
Researchers studied groups of people from the University of Wisconsin-Madison
community, ranging in age from 18 to 65. The first group was asked to perform simple tasks,