Originally posted on ideas.ted.com:
Behold, the new multimillion-dollar effort to quantify what happens when you let your mind wander.
Try this: Picture a famous monument. Let’s say it’s the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor. You’re directly in front of it and you can see the whole thing, or at least your version of it—sandals, robe, face, crown, torch. Now, rotate it so you see one side, then the rear, the other side, and now the front again.
Finished? Well done. You’ve just flexed your imagination — or at least one of the many cognitive processes that make it possible.
Imagination, that vast and scintillating internal fountain of all things strange and new, is now at the center of some exceptionally focused and well-financed academic work.
So what is “imagination,” exactly?
“At the most basic level, imagination is the mental representation of things that are not immediately present to your senses,” says Scott Barry Kaufman…
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