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Sat Aug 28, 2021, 10:07 AM

Why is walking so good for the brain? Blame on the "spontaneous fluctuations"


Why is walking so good for the brain? Blame on the "spontaneous fluctuations"
Going on a walk makes your mind wander in ways that neuroscience is only just coming to terms with

By THOMAS NAIL
PUBLISHED AUGUST 28, 2021 10:00AM


(Salon) Like most people, I have been walking more than usual during the pandemic and enjoying it. My meetings with students and colleagues have turned into walking meetings around campus for over a year. Now, I have a problem: School is starting soon, and I don't want to go back to the classroom. We all saw this coming. Give employees a taste of the outdoors, and they might not want to go back to their offices and desks. So I am thinking of teaching my fall courses outside.

Yet while I was researching this possibility, I discovered a problem. I had always read that walking increased cognitive functioning and problem solving, but it turns out that it's not that simple. In 2014, a new study showed that walking decreased rational and linear thinking and increased divergent thinking and imaginative mind-wandering. Uh oh. Will my students learn less if I teach them while walking?

....(snip)....

What is the connection between walking and thinking, and is it still good for us if it makes us more irrational? We may have heard by now how walking makes us feel good by releasing endorphins, lowers risk our of depression; increases cognitive functioning; strengthens memory; enhances creativity; and produces a protein essential for neuronal development and survival, synaptic plasticity, and cognitive function. It sounds great, but how are all these related, and why do we have to sacrifice our hard-earned rationality to get them? This is what I wanted to know before sending my students to the realms of unreason.

A lot is happening to our bodies and brains on a walk, but one fascinating thing stands out. They are all related to an increase in what neuroscientists call "spontaneous cognitive fluctuations." Scientists have been telling us that the background noises our brains make are random and unimportant for almost a century; hence, they have filtered and averaged them out of their studies. Yet increasing evidence shows that this "noise" is neither random nor unimportant. ...........(more)

https://www.salon.com/2021/08/28/walking-and-spontaneous-fluctuations-brain/





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Reply Why is walking so good for the brain? Blame on the "spontaneous fluctuations" (Original post)
marmar Aug 2021 OP
marybourg Aug 2021 #1
WheelWalker Aug 2021 #3
marybourg Aug 2021 #4
WheelWalker Aug 2021 #5
calimary Aug 2021 #14
luvs2sing Aug 2021 #2
BeckyDem Aug 2021 #6
DownriverDem Aug 2021 #11
BeckyDem Aug 2021 #18
utopian Aug 2021 #7
bahboo Aug 2021 #8
yaesu Aug 2021 #9
BobTheSubgenius Aug 2021 #10
WestMichRad Aug 2021 #17
BobTheSubgenius Aug 2021 #19
KS Toronado Aug 2021 #12
erronis Aug 2021 #13
calimary Aug 2021 #15
Bernardo de La Paz Aug 2021 #16

Response to marmar (Original post)

Sat Aug 28, 2021, 10:18 AM

1. I find just the opposite.

I do my best problem solving and decision making while walking ( on a track) and day dream while relaxing on my sofa ( with no tv on, maybe music ) .

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Response to marybourg (Reply #1)

Sat Aug 28, 2021, 10:42 AM

3. My experience and belief is contrary to yours.

I find my most effective problem solving and decision making takes place while I'm asleep.

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Response to WheelWalker (Reply #3)

Sat Aug 28, 2021, 10:47 AM

4. I think that may have been true

for me, too, when I was younger. But now, in old age, it's definitely when I'm walking.

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Response to marybourg (Reply #4)

Sat Aug 28, 2021, 10:50 AM

5. Interesting observation. After all, I was so much older then... I'm younger than that now.

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Response to WheelWalker (Reply #5)

Sat Aug 28, 2021, 12:53 PM

14. I see what you did there!

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Sat Aug 28, 2021, 10:27 AM

2. I've been taking walks..

both alone and with others ever since my little legs would hold me up. My five miles before breakfast (or lunch in winter) enriches my life in more ways than I can list.

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Sat Aug 28, 2021, 11:18 AM

6. Fascinating. I do most walking on my treadmill and I love how I feel while I

am walking. I don't go too fast, for me it is about walking while I listen to orchestra music, a lot of strings. I don't want to hear anything with lyrics.

Sleep is another area science is still unraveling, amazing how much there is to learn about the brain.

Great OP, thanks.

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Response to BeckyDem (Reply #6)

Sat Aug 28, 2021, 12:21 PM

11. Have you heard this?

Walking on a treadmill is not the same as walking around outside?

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Response to DownriverDem (Reply #11)

Sat Aug 28, 2021, 01:46 PM

18. What do you care?

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Sat Aug 28, 2021, 11:30 AM

7. I've been a walker for decades

Many, many times solutions to problems and creative inspiration have come to me mid walk. It's much more than physical exercise, in my experience.

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Response to utopian (Reply #7)

Sat Aug 28, 2021, 12:00 PM

8. ditto....

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Sat Aug 28, 2021, 12:16 PM

9. Thom Hartmann has an excellent book on this subject titled walking your blues away nt

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Sat Aug 28, 2021, 12:19 PM

10. I fail to see how this "wandering mind" is as negative as some people make out.

I feel calmer and more centered after I walk and let my mind go where it whilst. I think of it as a kind of disorganized meditation.

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Response to BobTheSubgenius (Reply #10)

Sat Aug 28, 2021, 01:41 PM

17. Disorganized meditation

What a great name for it.
Iím a plant lover, and a walk in a nature preserve is the balm that soothes my soul.

Disorganized Meditation would be a good band name too!

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Response to WestMichRad (Reply #17)

Mon Aug 30, 2021, 11:36 AM

19. I'm glad you like it.

Please feel free to use it...as a band name, or otherwise.

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Sat Aug 28, 2021, 12:43 PM

12. Is this why reQublicOns are more irrational ?

Lazy in their physical & mental exercises?

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Sat Aug 28, 2021, 12:49 PM

13. My Greek tennis partner (Nick) told me constantly: Walk and talk.

He didn't count solitary walks in the woods or those with my dogs. He was thinking of the conversations that happen while strolling in the forests. Of course this is related to forest bathing, Shinrin-Yoku (森林浴.

Now, I always get my best ideas when I am driving but I don't want to stop to write them down. Forgotten by my next stop....

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Sat Aug 28, 2021, 01:03 PM

15. Most interesting!

I pick stuff up when Iím out walking. Always keep a little bag with me for interesting rocks, pine cones, beautiful leaves when fall is coming, and yes, litter that some selfish careless asshole couldnít be bothered to deposit in what is usually a very-nearby and convenient trash can.

And, yes, it both clears my mind AND generates ideas.

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Sat Aug 28, 2021, 01:25 PM

16. Great article, but very bad linkage of imagination and divergent thinking to "irrational"


It is a big mistake to assume, as the article starts out, that the positive states of "divergent thinking and imaginative mind-wandering" are "irrational".

First, the rational / irrational dimension of thinking is orthogonal to the imaginative wandering dimension. Orthogonal meaning that the dimensional axes cross and are not parallel. We use those processes for different purposes at different times. Presumably "divergent thinking" is akin to "imaginative mind-wandering", though neither are defined.

Second, "irrational" has a very negative sense all around it and linking other dimensions of thinking to something so negative is needlessly giving them a huge burden to get out from under.

But read the article. The concepts of fractal nature and fractal neural activity are important and lead to the idea that thinking itself is fractal. Good article.

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