Have you ever lost your train of thought, no longer remembering what to say, with an empty mind, not even remembering what you were talking about? Don't worry, I'd say it happens to everyone from time to time, but… why? Why does this happen?
To answer this question, a study from Case Western Reserve University, in Cleveland, comes in handy. The researchers recruited 45 people and asked them to observe 20 different situations. Half of the people were presented with elementary physics problems, while the other half were presented with emotional problems and some social questions, such as: how does a man feel while arguing with his wife?
As people addressed these issues their brains were scanned with functional magnetic resonance imaging to see which areas kicked in. So the researchers noticed that we use different brain areas to solve very different problems.
You may already know that the right hemisphere is mainly concerned with empathy and widespread attention while the left is in charge of processing and managing information on an analytical level.
Therefore, the researchers found that when we are busy carrying out tasks of a social nature, which require a certain amount of empathy so that emotions emerge, the areas responsible for mechanical reasoning are deactivated. On the contrary, when we face logical problems, the areas of social problems are deactivated.
The truth is that it is not the first time that this phenomenon is encountered, in the past it was already hypothesized that we have a neuronal network by default, which is normally activated when we are worried and our mind is crowded with many ideas. In this way, it is as if we are activating some kind of autopilot. On the other hand, it is also known that a network exists
of positive activities which, when activated, the neuronal network is deactivated by default and vice versa.
Therefore, the researchers entered the second phase of the experiment by devising a third proof based on neutral content, in which the volunteers simply had to talk to someone. In this case it was observed that the default neural network and the positive activity network turned on and off continuously.
Researchers believe this is the answer to why we lose our train of thought. That is, when we talk to a person we will always try to maintain a certain degree of empathy, but at the same time, we must maintain the logic of the speech so that both networks alternate and, from time to time, lose the rhythm by playing a bad joke on them. .
For this reason it is easier to lose the thread when we are trying to convince someone of a certain topic or when we are talking and suddenly a different idea creeps into our mind. In these cases, the neural network would change so quickly that we wouldn't be able to follow the thread.