Usually, we connect mental tasks with brain activity, but have you ever thought if your brain is always working even when you’re not doing anything? The answer, as it happens, is in fact yes.
Our brains are continuously active, even while we’re sleeping or “zoning out” on the couch, according to research, and this activity is believed to be crucial for a number of processes, including problem-solving and memory consolidation.
According to a study in Quanta Magazine, researchers discovered that while performing activities, activity in some parts of the brain increases and in other areas decreases simultaneously.
This piqued their interest because it appeared that the same brain regions were always active during different tasks—that is, that they were active when the subject was not working and inactive when they were focused on outside stimuli.
They dubbed these regions “task-negative,” which sparked investigation into how brain networks—rather than just individual brain regions—manage our interior experiences.
Washington University School of Medicine neurologist Marcus Raichle found that when resting, the resting mind’s task-negative, inwardly focused regions consume more energy than the outside of the brain.
A research published in 2001 referred to this behaviour as “a default mode of brain function.” A Stanford University team named the “default mode network” they found two years later when this task-negative activity formed a cohesive network of interconnected brain areas.
The dorsal and ventral medial prefrontal cortices, among other brain regions dispersed across the brain, comprise the default mode, one of the earliest brain networks.
Memory, experience replay, prediction, action consideration, reward/punishment, and information integration are all related to these regions.
Since its discovery, neuroscientists have discovered other unique networks that synchronistically activate seemingly unrelated brain regions, harmonising with one another.
According to research, the default mode network—which encompasses daydreaming, recalling the past, speculating about the mental states of others, visualising the future, and language processing—may assist in the creation of an internal story.
The Stanford Cognitive and Systems Neuroscience Laboratory’s director, Vinod Menon, claims that this network aids in thinking about one’s identity to others, remembering the past, and developing a cogent self-narrative.
It’s obvious that the default mode is up to something complex because it’s involved in a variety of intricate procedures that deftly explain themselves.