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Week 1

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Focus and Diffuse Modes

For starters new students learn about focused and diffuse modes. Focus is when you concentrate intently on something you’re trying to learn or to understand.

Diffuse thinking is more relaxed thinking style is related to a set of neural resting states.

As far as neuroscientists know right now, you’re either in the focused mode or the diffuse mode of thinking. It seems you can’t be in both thinking modes at the same time, like two sides of a coin. We can see either one side, or the other side of the coin. But not both sides at the same time. Being in one mode seems to limit your access to the other mode’s way of thinking.

Example

Salvador Dali would relax in a chair and let his mind go free, often vaguely thinking about what he had previously been focusing on. He’d have a key in his hand, dangling it just above the floor, and as he would slip into his dreams falling asleep, the key would fall from his hands and the clatter would wake him up, just in time so he could gather up those diffuse mode connections and ideas in his mind, and off he’d go back into the focus mode bringing with him the new connections he’d made while in the diffuse mode.