The Wandering Mind Book Summary - The Wandering Mind Book explained in key points
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The Wandering Mind summary

Michael C. Corballis

What the Brain Does When You’re Not Looking

4.2 (104 ratings)
12 mins

Brief summary

The Wandering Mind by Michael C. Corballis is a fascinating study of human imagination and how it shapes our lives. This book explores the science behind our brains' ability to wander and offers insights into how we can harness this power to achieve our goals.

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    The Wandering Mind
    Summary of 6 key ideas

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    A wandering mind isn’t a bad thing; your brain remains active when it woolgathers.

    Sometimes our minds don’t cooperate. Have you ever found yourself sitting at your desk with the intention of getting some work done but instead your mind keeps going in other directions? When this happens, don’t assume that your brain isn’t still hard at work.

    When your mind wanders, it is using nearly as much energy as when it is focused and concentrating.

    This is because only certain regions of your brain are active when focused on a specific task. But when your mind begins to wander, the default-mode network is activated. This network, named by neurologist Marcus Raichle, is spread out across the brain in regions that are not involved with the more direct interaction focused on what’s in front of you.

    But despite being spread out, there is still plenty of activity going on.

    You can think of your brain as a small town: When there’s a big event at the town square, all the people show up in one location. But afterward, when everyone splits up and goes about their own business, there’s still nearly as much activity, it’s just distributed around town. This is what happens when your mind wanders.

    So the wandering mind may have some drawbacks, but it isn’t all bad.

    It’s true that a wandering mind can distract you from finishing a task, and research also suggests that it can lead to less happiness and premature aging.

    But wait! Mind wandering is also vital to creative thinking and allowing inventors and artists to make the world a better place. Because when your mind drifts it can free-associate and find connections and solutions to problems that might otherwise stay hidden.

    Maybe you’ve had inspiration strike while you were spacing out in the shower or, perhaps, on a hike through nature. This is where George de Mestral was inspired to invent Velcro when he was walking along and noticed how burrs stuck to his clothes.

    In the next blink, we’ll see how our memory dictates where the wandering mind goes.

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    What is The Wandering Mind about?

    The Wandering Mind (2015) reveals exactly what is going on in our brain when our mind starts to lose focus. We explore the areas of the brain that remain active as concentration drifts and uncover the connections between our memory, creativity and the rewards of daydreaming.

    The Wandering Mind Review

    The Wandering Mind (2014) explores the wonders and complexities of our wandering minds and why they hold the key to creativity and problem-solving. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • With thorough research and insightful analysis, it sheds light on how daydreaming and mind-wandering are essential for generating innovative ideas.
    • Backed by scientific evidence and real-life examples, it uncovers the connection between mind-wandering and increased creativity, making it an intriguing and enlightening read.
    • The book challenges conventional thinking by presenting fresh perspectives on the power of daydreaming, ensuring that readers embark on a mind-opening journey.

    Best quote from The Wandering Mind

    Blood flow in the brain is only 5–10 percent lower during wandering, showing it is still quite active.

    —Michael C. Corballis
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    Who should read The Wandering Mind?

    • People who want to know more about the brain
    • Employees and students interested in productivity
    • Artists and business people searching for creativity

    About the Author

    Michael C. Corballis is a psychologist and author as well as a professor emeritus at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. His main fields of research include cognitive neuroscience, memory and the evolution of language. His other books include A Very Short Tour of the Mind and The Recursive Mind.

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    The Wandering Mind FAQs 

    What is the main message of The Wandering Mind?

    The main message of The Wandering Mind is that daydreaming and mind-wandering are essential for creativity and problem-solving.

    How long does it take to read The Wandering Mind?

    The reading time for The Wandering Mind varies depending on the reader's speed, but it typically takes a few hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in 15 minutes.

    Is The Wandering Mind a good book? Is it worth reading?

    The Wandering Mind is worth reading for its valuable insights into the power of daydreaming and mind-wandering in our lives.

    Who is the author of The Wandering Mind?

    The author of The Wandering Mind is Michael C. Corballis.

    What to read after The Wandering Mind?

    If you're wondering what to read next after The Wandering Mind, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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