American researchers have noticed a difference in the management of boredom, which can cause anxiety in some people. They tried to learn more about this process through a study of 54 young adults. Their results made it possible to observe the areas of the brain that are activated in case of boredom.
Boredom does not have a very good reputation. It is often associated with a lack of productivity or concentration on a certain task. However, some studies have shown that boredom can stimulate creativity. So what matters is not the time spent boredom, but how we react to this state. Moreover, boredom can be poorly experienced by people who feel it excessively. That’s why researchers at Washington State University in the United States investigated the effects of boredom on the brain.
Before starting this work, the team was convinced that people who reacted negatively to boredom had brain differences from those who reacted well. “But in our basic tests, we couldn’t differentiate brain waves. It was only when they were in a state of boredom that the difference appeared,” they say. They therefore opted for the explanation of the individual response: some people simply react badly to boredom.
The areas of the brain
“People who report a high propensity for boredom have an avoidance temperament. These people are more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety,” scientists write in the journal Psychophysiology. To better understand this mechanism, they recruited 54 young adults. The volunteers answered a questionnaire on boredom, then took a test to measure their brain activity at rest, then during a 10-minute boring activity.
By analyzing the data collected, the authors of the study found that participants who reported being more prone to daily boredom showed more activity in the right frontal region of the brain (anxiety, negative emotions) during the repetitive task. People who were used to better managing boredom tend to activate the left side of the brain (looking for stimulation or distraction). The next step for researchers is to develop strategies to help each person deal with boredom in a positive way. “Proactive thinking could be a good way,” they say.