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Wednesday, Mar 28, 2007, Page 8
It seems that most scientists who study why our mind wanders assume that it is a bad thing ("Scientists explore the `wanders' of the human mind," March 23,
page 9). Sometimes it is a bad thing, but often it isn't.Creativity research consistently shows that "incubation," some quiet time in which the thinker is
not concerned with the problem at hand, helps with problem-solving. Piaget, for example, went for walks when faced with hard problems in his work and Einstein played his violin. Both found that solutions came easily after a short
period of relaxation. Research also shows that good thinkers actually schedule in "idle time" after periods of hard work.
When the mind wanders, at least in some cases, it may
be because the mind needs to "incubate" over a
problem. Artificially forcing the thinker to stay
"focused," without allowing incubation, might inhibit
Remember when you were staring at the ceiling in
elementary school and the teacher asked you whether
the answer was on the ceiling? Maybe it was.