Boredom and information overload

There’s more to boredom than meets the eye.  In an article discussing research about the psychology of boredom, the New York Times writes that sometimes boredom can be a positive thing, allowing the brain time to work through things:

[B]oredom is more than a mere flagging of interest or a precursor to mischief.   Some experts say that people tune things out for good reasons, and that over time boredom becomes a tool for sorting information — an increasingly sensitive spam filter.  In various fields including neuroscience and education, research suggests that falling into a numbed trance allows the brain to recast the outside world in ways that can be productive and creative at least as often as they are disruptive.

Fascinating.  I’ve often felt that my mind processes information the best when I give it a chance to idle.  For instance, I’ll read complicated materials before bed and let my brain process things while I sleep.  When I awake, things often seem to have gelled.  Although the mental processes associated with sleep are likely quite different from those associated with boredom, it would seem that in both instances, the brain sometimes needs to detach in order to wade through information overload.

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