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How Surfing The Internet Mimics Daydreaming In Your Brain

Food for thought.

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You open your browser and type in a few search phrases, maybe beginning with "Why is my cat scratching its ears?" Then it becomes "How do I know if there are invisible bugs in my house?" "What diseases can bugs carry?" And finally you're spiraling out of control with searches for "Do bugs live inside my ears?"

There's actually some neurological basis for our wandering attention online. Activities like watching television and surfing online activate the basal ganglia of the brain.

Before you're off to daydreaming about anthropomorphic basil plants wearing tough grimaces and tiny bandanas (we'll get to daydreaming later), let me explain. The basal ganglia is a cluster of nuclei that's linked to the thalamus in the base of our brain, and it's involved in coordination of movement.

Anyway, when you sit down to watch a marathon of reality TV or begin entering random words into the search bar on your browser, your basal ganglia is activated.

So if you think about it, Twitter, with its instant gratification, is like the cocaine of the Internet. Admit it, you’re addicted to the high you receive from surfing online.

While you’re surfing online, you’re letting your mind wander. When we daydream, our minds naturally wander, cycling through different modes of thinking, similar to the way we cycle through information on the Internet.

The daydreaming mind cycles through different parts of the brain and accesses information that was dormant or out of reach. Daydreaming allows the brain to make an association between two bits of information in a way that the daydreamer may not have thought of before.

On the Internet, we sift through pages and pages of content while making new associations and discoveries. In a way, surfing the Internet mimics daydreaming in our brains.

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