Wednesday, December 23, 2009

daydream believer

self-portrait as embryo

we feel pain and pleasure
we yearn

and in order to find out how
to minimize pain

and maximize pleasure

we think

Found in The 20 W sleep-walkers by Ladislav Kováč1 of Comenius University, Bratislava, Slovakia in the current issue of EMBO Reports.

Also found in Kováč1's piece, as directly quoted:
  • The energy output of the resting adult human body is equal to the power of a 100 W electrical light bulb.

  • The brain alone consumes 20% of the body's chemical energy, even though it accounts for only 2% of the body's mass. Metaphorically speaking, we all have a 20 W light bulb burning in our head, even when we lie still in complete darkness doing physically nothing.

  • The brain as a whole shows no difference in the energy budget between ‘resting’ and ‘busy’ states.

  • The brain guzzles up—per unit weight—as much energy as the heart muscle, about 16 times more energy than the skeletal muscle at rest, or as much as the leg muscles during a marathon race.

When the brain receives no signals from the environment, a considerable part of its energy is used in daydreaming: the human mind may be spending as much as half of its wakeful time daydreaming (Klinger, 1990). This comprises not only the creation of fanciful stories similar to those we dream during the night, but also the rehashing of all possible and impossible alternatives of the past, present and future activities.

This interior universe of daydreaming creates a continuous series of fictional rewards and punishments, which steadily builds up the unique and idiosyncratic personality of every human individual by conditioning. This may explain our capability to work for years on our career, tenaciously, with self-restraint and self-denial, as if we were motivated by the mirage of an ultimate reward.

Apparently, it is not the latter in the remote future, but our present fancies of it that provide immediate, positive rewards and function to reinforce our deeds.

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