The Atlantic and Scientific American highlight research by Dr. Mary Helen Immordino-Yang

Mary Helen Immordino-Yang

Dr. Mary Helen Immordino-Yang

The Atlantic highlighted research by Mary Helen Immordino-Yang that found that when people rest, their brains are still very active and are used for all kinds of essential mental processes. The article, titled, “Teach Kids to Daydream,” noted that mental “downtime” can be used to alleviate the stress of standardized testing. It quoted a paper that Immordino-Yang co-authored titled, “Rest Is Not Idleness: Implications of the Brain’s Default Mode for Human Development and Education” that said that rest is “constructive internal reflection” and is vital to learning and emotional well-being:

“Inadequate opportunity for children to play and for adolescents to quietly reflect and to daydream may have negative consequences—both for social-emotional well-being and for their ability to attend well to tasks.”

Scientific American referenced Immordino-Yang’s work in an article titled, “Why Your Brain Needs More Downtime.” It said that research on naps and other restful pursuits can imprint memories, increase creativity, enhance productivity and increase attention.

The author writes,

In a recent thought-provoking review of research on the default mode network, Mary Helen Immordino-Yang of the University of Southern California and her co-authors argue that when we are resting the brain is anything but idle and that, far from being purposeless or unproductive, downtime is in fact essential to mental processes that affirm our identities, develop our understanding of human behavior and instill an internal code of ethics—processes that depend on the DMN. Downtime is an opportunity for the brain to make sense of what it has recently learned, to surface fundamental unresolved tensions in our lives and to swivel its powers of reflection away from the external world toward itself.