Chris Miall has featured in a news article and podcast for Nature titled ‘Neuroscience: Idle minds’ (19 September 2012), which discusses the activity of the brain while it is in a resting state.

Over the past few years, researchers have been running functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanning experiments in which scanned participants have been asked to clear their minds and think of nothing in particular, and results have shown that a surprising amount of brain activity occurs during idle moments. There have been several theories as to why this might be.

Research undertaken by Chris and his colleagues in the School suggests that brain activity at rest can be affected by recent events. The team scanned volunteers at rest, and then asked them to learn a task involving using a joystick to track a moving target. When the participants were scanned at rest again, the team could see the effects of motor learning in the resting networks. Chris commented that “the brain is not only thinking about supper coming up, but it's also processing the recent past and converting some of that into long-term memories”.

Read the full article and listen to the podcast