August 5, 2008

In keeping with the recurring theme of emotions this past week or so today’s New York Times has an impressive article by Benedict Carey You’re checked out, but your brain is tuned in on the creative potential of boredom. Like so many emotions it’s keeping ‘bad company’ …

Scientists know plenty about boredom, too, though more as a result of poring through thickets of meaningless data than from studying the mental state itself. Much of the research on the topic has focused on the bad company it tends to keep, from depression and overeating to smoking and drug use.


neuroscientists have found that the brain is highly active when disengaged, consuming only about 5 percent less energy in its resting “default state” than when involved in routine tasks, according to Dr. Mark Mintun, a professor of radiology at Washington University in St. Louis.

Carey notes five positive attributes of boredom
(1) It allows the brain the creative space to seek options
(2) The brain is highly active when in a resting state– just 5% less active than when doing routine activities
(3) It is a tool for sorting through information – a ‘sensitive spam filter’
(4) It should be recognised as a legitimate emotion central to learning and creativity
(5) It is a state that demands relief therefore seeks some kind of change
So lots going on when we claim to be bored…I must remember that the next time my eyes are glazing over 🙂