Lost in daydreams It could be a sign you're intelligent as absent-minded children have sharper brains

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UPDATED:

02:43 GMT, 17 March 2012


Sharper minds: Children who are constantly distracted are able to hold far more information than their diligent peers

Sharper minds: Children who are constantly distracted are able to hold far more information than their diligent peers

People whose minds wander might actually have sharper brains.

A study shows that those who appear to be constantly distracted in fact
have more ‘working memory’, giving them the ability to do two things at
the same time.

Participants in the study had to either press a button in response to
the appearance of a certain letter on a screen, or tap in time with
their breath. The researchers checked periodically to ask if their minds
were wandering.

At the end, they measured the participants’ working memory capacity,
giving them a score for their ability to remember a series of letters
interspersed with easy maths questions.

Daniel Levinson, a psychologist
at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said those with higher working
memory capacity reported ‘more mind wandering during these simple tasks’
even though their performance was not compromised.

The results of his research, published online in Psychological Science,
are the first to show the association with mind wandering and
intelligence.

It is thought the extra mental workspace is used, for instance, when
adding up two spoken numbers without being able to write them down.

Its capacity has been associated with general measures of intelligence, such as reading comprehension and IQ score.

The latest study underscores how important working memory is in allowing the brain to focus on the most pressing issues.

Up to speed: Researchers found that the performance of absent-minded children was not compromised during simple tasks despite their minds wandering

Up
to speed: Researchers found that the performance of absent-minded
children was not compromised during simple tasks despite their minds
wandering