Looks like our imagination is a lot more powerful and ‘real’ than we think it is. This doesn’t mean that you can actually create imagined scenarios in real life. What it does mean is that your imagination can change the way you perceive things.
A new study shows that imagination can be of use in helping us overcome our fear and anxiety. Previous studies also back this claim and prove how an imagined scenario can influence the body to react in a certain way. This is because the brain takes the imagined scenario as a real experience.
What Does This New Study Reveal?
A new study which has been carried out by researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder and the Icahn School of Medicine shows the role imagination plays to soothe one’s reaction to difficult situations in real life. This study has been published in the Neuron journal.
According to this new study, imagined scenarios can benefit our wellbeing. For the research, 68 participates were made to associate a sound to an electric shock. This shock which was given was uncomfortable but not painful. The participants were then divided into three groups and no more electric shocks were given.
The first group was exposed to the sound that they were made to associate with the shock. The second group was made to imagine that sound. The third group was made to imagine pleasant sounds.
The researchers used MRI scans for assessing the brain’s activity in both real life and imagined scenarios. Results were similar in the cases of the first two groups. Both the groups’ members, those who actually heard the sound and those who had imagined it repeatedly, stopped fearing the actual situation.
However, participants of the third group didn’t stop feeling fear. As they didn’t repeatedly hear or imagine hearing that sound and imagined pleasant sounds instead they kept fearing the sound that was associated to the electric shock.
This research shows how imagination can work as a coping mechanism and help us in more ways than one. The message? Don’t underestimate your imagination. To back this up, a previous study shows that when we imagine a situation, our brains and bodies can expect the act as if it was real.
Benefits of being more imaginative
In our minds, we can be anything or anyone we want to be. Being imaginative can help us in many ways. Let’s explore some of the ways, imagination can benefit us:
- It can improve problem-solving skills
- It can better our memory and reduce the risks of memory-related mental health concerns
- It can improve our social interactions by making us more observant, empathetic, and collaborative
- It can make us more confident about ourselves
Science proves the power of our imagination and according to it, what we imagine can impact our brains and bodies greatly. What’s more, imagining a thing repeatedly may help take out the fear from the same situation in real life.