Find yourself lost in daydreams during important meetings? It may indicate that you are smarter and more creative than your peers, a study claims.
"People with efficient brains may have too much brain capacity to stop their minds from wandering," said Eric Schumacher, associate psychology at the Georgia Institute of Technology in the US.
Researchers measured the brain patterns of more than 100 people while they lay in an MRI machine.
Participants were instructed to focus on a stationary fixation point for five minutes. The team used the data to identify which parts of the brain worked in unison.
"The correlated brain regions gave us insight about which areas of the brain work together during an awake, resting state," said Christine Godwin, a PhD candidate at Georgia Tech.
"Interestingly, research has suggested that these same brain patterns measured during these states are related to different cognitive abilities," said Godwin.
Once they figured out how the brain works together at rest, the team compared the data with tests the participants that measured their intellectual and creative ability.
Participants also filled out a questionnaire about how much their mind wandered in daily life.
Those who reported more frequent daydreaming scored higher on intellectual and creative ability and had more efficient brain systems measured in the MRI machine.
"People tend to think of mind wandering as something that is bad. You try to pay attention and you cant," said Schumacher.
"Our data are consistent with the idea that this isnt always true. Some people have more efficient brains," he said.
Higher efficiency means more capacity to think, and the brain may mind wander when performing easy tasks.
One clue that your brain is efficient is that you can zone in and out of conversations or tasks when appropriate, then naturally tune back in without missing important points or steps, researchers said.
The findings open the door for follow-up research to further understand when mind wandering is harmful, and when it may actually be helpful.
"There are important individual differences to consider as well, such as a persons motivation or intent to stay focused on a particular task," said Godwin.