The human brain is fascinating. Did you know the brain has default modes depending on our state of mind – focused versus rested? One such mode is called the Default Mode Network.
The default mode network (DMN) is a collection of brain regions that become active when the mind is at rest or not focused on a specific task. The DMN is thought to play a critical role in self-reflection, imagination, and creativity. However, recent research has also shown that the DMN can provide valuable insights into how we learn and process information.
In this article, we will explore what the DMN is, how it relates to learning, and actionable takeaways for using the DMN to learn better.
What is the Default Mode Network?
The DMN is a network of brain regions that become active when the mind is not focused on a specific task. The DMN includes the medial prefrontal cortex, the posterior cingulate cortex, the inferior parietal lobule, and the medial temporal lobes. These regions are thought to play a critical role in self-reflection, imagination, and creativity.
When we are not focused on a specific task, the DMN becomes active, and we begin to engage in self-reflection and daydreaming. This activity allows us to explore our thoughts and emotions, process information, and make connections between ideas.
The DMN and Learning
While the DMN is typically associated with self-reflection and daydreaming, recent research has shown that it also plays a critical role in learning and memory.
When we are engaged in a learning task, the DMN becomes less active, indicating that our brain is focused on the task at hand. Conversely, when we are not learning or are disengaged from a task, the DMN becomes more active, indicating that our brain is not focused on the task.
Studies have shown that individuals with stronger connections within the DMN are better able to learn from feedback than those with weaker connections. Additionally, the strength of the connection between the medial prefrontal cortex and the posterior cingulate cortex has been found to be related to individual differences in learning.
Here are six actionable takeaways for using the DMN to learn better:
1. Connect ideas
Making connections between different ideas and concepts can help your brain integrate new information into your existing knowledge base. Try to find connections between what you are learning and other things you know or are interested in.
2. Take breaks
Taking breaks between learning sessions allows your DMN to become active and process information. This activity allows you to explore your thoughts and emotions, process information, and make connections between ideas.
3. Practice mindfulness
Mindfulness practices, such as meditation, can help you become more aware of your thoughts and emotions, allowing you to better understand how you process information. Consider reflecting on what you learned, how it relates to other knowledge you have, and how you can apply it in the future.
4. Avoid multitasking
Multitasking can be detrimental to learning, as it can prevent your brain from fully engaging with the task at hand. Try to focus on one task at a time to give your brain the opportunity to fully engage with the material.
5. Get enough sleep
Sleep is critical for consolidating new memories and integrating new information into your existing knowledge base. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night to give your brain the opportunity to process and consolidate new information.
6. Practice active recall
Active recall involves actively retrieving information from memory, rather than simply reviewing the material. This technique can help you consolidate and reinforce new information. Taking notes, using visual aids can help you consolidate new information and reinforce key concepts.
If our brain encourages us to rest, reflect and rejuvenate, why do we stop ourselves?