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  • What? Where am I? I was just walking on a beach with Benedict Cumberbatch,

  • Oh where were we? Right. DNews.

  • Hi there, Julia here for DNews. Ever been lost in a daydream? Ever had trouble separating

  • imagination from reality? Yeah me too. But there is a difference, and scientists have

  • discovered what it is. Turns out when you are revelling on a beach with Benedict Cumberbatch

  • your brain is running in the opposite direction of reality. Literally.

  • Researchers from the University of Wisconsin identified the neural pathways in which daydreams

  • and reality travel and they appear to be heading in opposite directions. The researchers tracked

  • the electrical activity of subjects, using EEG, or electroencephalography. EEGS are noninvasive

  • sensors placed on the scalp, it looks like a sci-fi hair net. Some subjects imagined

  • riding a bike while focusing on details, like shapes and colors, and then watched silent

  • nature videos. The other subjects watched short videos and then replayed them in their

  • head.

  • What the scientists found was surprising. Neural activity seemed to flow in specific

  • directions. For those imagining scenes, the information flowed from parietal lobe to the

  • occipital lobe. From a higherorder region that synthesizes information from the senses

  • to a lower order region, where the visual information is registered.

  • When taking in information from reality, the information followed the reverse path, from

  • the occipital lobeupto the parietal lobe.

  • How about people who seem to confuse reality and daydreams? They might be lacking a specific

  • fold in the brain, called the paracingulate sulcus, or PCS. Those with the fold have an

  • easier time remembering if something actually happened or if they just imagined it. They

  • also perform better on memory tests. The size of the PCS fold varies naturally within people,

  • some people just have larger ones than others. Unfortunately, the fold forms just before

  • birth so there’s not much you can do if you don’t have one or if yours is small.

  • So where does imagination happen in the brain? Imagination has been a tricky thing to pin

  • down. Imagination and creativity used to be considered the domain of theso-called

  • right brain. Which is now pretty much considered junk science.

  • Some scientists consider the hippocampus to be a prime location for imagination. It’s

  • active in both imagining and remembering images and events. This close location

  • could be one of the reasons memory is so unreliable.

  • Yet researchers from Dartmouth University have found out that the imagination isn’t

  • isolated to just one part of the brain. 12 regions across the brain seem to play a part

  • in imagining. The so called mental playground is a large cortical and subcortical network

  • across the brain. It’s a place where you can visualize and play around with images.

  • We can combine shapes or see scenarios which may not even happen in real life. Which makes

  • sense, since imagining something requires a lot of different processes. It blends emotions,

  • memory, thoughts, and more to make-up something completely different.

  • These types of studies can help us understand what makes us separate from other species.

  • What gives humans our imaginative edge? And they could potentially lead to new tools to

  • find out what happens when we sleep and dream. Or could lead to a new cognitive neuroscientific

  • theory on consciousness.

  • What do you think? Do you ever get lost in a daydream?

  • How contrary to reality is your imagination?

  • Let us know in the comments below and don’t forget to subscribe here for more DNews every

  • day of the week.

What? Where am I? I was just walking on a beach with Benedict Cumberbatch,

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