Neuroscientific support for the value of introspection

The stream of information and recommendations flowing out of the neuroscience field regarding the real value of reflection and daydreaming, as contrasted with our mainstream culture’s relentless emphasis on focus and productivity, recalls Theodore Roszak’s words in Where the Wasteland Ends about the fatuousness of modern science when it frequently announces “revolutionary” “new findings” about human realities that our ancestors held as a baseline of mere common sense. But that doesn’t make it any less pleasant to see. Pair this trend with, for example, the creeping new calls for abandoning the high-productivity economy, recognizing the exhaustion of the economic growth paradigm, and embracing creatively deployed leisure as the apex of human civilization, and we have the recipe for some very wholesome developments indeed.

As each day passes, the pace of life seems to accelerate — demands on productivity continue ever upward and there is hardly ever a moment when we aren’t, in some way, in touch with our family, friends, or coworkers. While moments for reflection may be hard to come by, a new article suggests that the long-lost art of introspection — even daydreaming — may be an increasingly valuable part of life. In the article, published in the July issue of Perspectives on Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, psychological scientist Mary Helen Immordino-Yang and colleagues survey the existing scientific literature from neuroscience and psychological science, exploring what it means when our brains are ‘at rest.’

…”We focus on the outside world in education and don’t look much at inwardly focused reflective skills and attentions, but inward focus impacts the way we build memories, make meaning and transfer that learning into new contexts,” says Immordino-Yang, a professor of education, psychology and neuroscience at the University of Southern California. “What are we doing in schools to support kids turning inward?”

…And mindful reflection is not just important in an academic context — it’s also essential to our ability to make meaning of the world around us. Inward attention is an important contributor to the development of moral thinking and reasoning and is linked with overall socioemotional well-being…”Consistently imposing overly high-attention demands on children, either in school, through entertainment, or through living conditions, may rob them of opportunities to advance from thinking about ‘what happened’ or ‘how to do this’ to constructing knowledge about ‘what this means for the world and for the way I live my life,’ ” Immordino-Yang writes.

FULL STORY: Day Dreaming Good for You? Reflection is Critical for Development and Well-Being,” ScienceDaily, July 2, 2012

About Matt Cardin

Teeming Brain founder and editor Matt Cardin is the author of DARK AWAKENINGS, DIVINATIONS OF THE DEEP, A COURSE IN DEMONIC CREATIVITY: A WRITER'S GUIDE TO THE INNER GENIUS, and the forthcoming TO ROUSE LEVIATHAN. He is also the editor of BORN TO FEAR: INTERVIEWS WITH THOMAS LIGOTTI and the academic encyclopedias MUMMIES AROUND THE WORLD, GHOSTS, SPIRITS, AND PSYCHICS: THE PARANORMAL FROM ALCHEMY TO ZOMBIES, and HORROR LITERATURE THROUGH HISTORY.

Posted on July 4, 2012, in Society & Culture and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *