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Daydreaming Might Improve Your Memory

By Rosemary Black. Published in the Daily News

Link to the original newspaper article.

If you want a better memory, take a daydream break. That's the take-home message from a new study that found that constant multitasking with no let-up could be costing you big time, according to a new study from NYU neuroscientists.

The researchers found that study participants who let their minds "rest" after looking at pairs of images could recall the pairs better later on, according to

"Our data suggests that if you are not allowing yourself, not giving yourself, a break, it is costly," said Lila Davachi, an assistant professor in NYU's Department of Psychology and Center for Neuroscience. "It's possible you are hindering your brain's ability to consolidate memories and experiences."

Some 16 men and women between the ages of 22 and 34 participated in the study, which was under the direction of Davachi. Their brains were scanned by a functional MRI machine as they looked at objects, faces, or a scenic view.

After not being told why they were directed to look at the pictures, they were given a rest period and told to let their minds wander. Later, they were asked to recall the pictures, according to

From the brain scans, the researchers could tell that daydreaming during the rest period improved the participants' recall.

One neuroscientist is not surprised by the results.

"I have been thinking more and more about our external environment and internal environment," University of California neuroscientist Adam Gazzeley told "We feel like we live in an external environment because we interact with the world. But we also have a dynamic and rich internal environment."

As multitaskers try to cram in more and more stimulus, never letting up on the Blackberry or the cell phone to simply daydream, there may be consequences.

"There are costs to multitasking and not pausing," said Gazzaley.

Earlier studies have demonstrated that multitaskers are more distracted and stressed out than people who don't multitask.


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