ANDREW SMART ON THE NEURO-SCIENCE OF IDLING

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Host: The Idler Academy
Location: The Idler Academy, 81 Westbourne Park Road, London W2 5QH
Speaker: Andrew Smart

Research over the last decade has revealed a counter-intuitive fact about our brains: they are more active when we are not. As much as 90% of the brain’s energy is devoted to supporting on-going or spontaneous brain activity that is unrelated to the external environment. The brain has a “default mode network” that activates when we space out, day-dream or procrastinate.

This network supports reflection, self-knowledge and may be important for having “Aha!” moments. Being a productive and busy person, however, may suppress activity in this important network. Therefore our productivity and time-management crazed culture is bad for our mental health. This talk will discuss default mode network research and other counter-intuitive things about the brain, such as the beneficial role that noise and randomness play in our brains.

Andrew Smart is a research scientist and author who has worked at New York UniversITy and Honeywell Aerospace. He has a master degree in cognitive science from Lund University in Sweden. He has a deep interest in idleness and a loathing of time-management, which led to the writing of Autopilot: The Art and Science of Doing Nothing.

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