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Daydreaming brain network used in autopilot

From BBC - October 24, 2017

The part of the brain associated with daydreaming also allows us to perform tasks on autopilot, a study has found.

A collection of brain regions known as the "default mode network" (DMN) is active when we are daydreaming or thinking about the past or future.

Cambridge University researchers found it also allows us to switch to autopilot once we are familiar with a task, such as driving a familiar route.

There is even hope the findings can help people with mental illness.

Previous research has found the DMN is more active during states of rest, and that it can behave abnormally in conditions such as Alzheimer's disease, schizophrenia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

But researchers have remained unclear about its exact role.

Switching to manual

For the current study, 28 volunteers were asked to match a target card, such as the two of clubs, with one of four cards shown.

They had to work out if the cards were supposed to be matched on colour, number or shape through trial and error.Their brain activity was monitored throughout using a scanner.

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