Excerpt from "Why Daydreaming Isn’t a Waste of Time," by Annie Murphy Paul, KQED Mind/Shift, June 1, 2012:
The ability to become absorbed in our own thoughts is linked to our ability to focus intently on the world outside, research indicates. In one recent neuro-imaging study, for example, participants alternated periods of mental rest with periods of looking at images and listening to sounds.
The more effectively the neural regions associated with “looking in” were activated during rest and deactivated while attending to the visual and auditory stimuli, the more engaged were the brain’s sensory cortices in response to sights and sounds. Focus and concentration are essential, of course. But so are introspection and reflection.