Can we measure love in terms of neuroscience?

brain researchMeasure up, Where thoughts to begin and end up

Lying in bed at night and wondering why the carousel of thought just doesn't stop now - many people only know that for good. For the first time, a research duo has been able to measure where thoughts begin and end.

We think an average of 6200 thoughts a day. This is the rough calculation by a research duo at Queens University in Kingston, Canada. With their study, which they published in the journal Nature Communications, the researchers wanted to find out how to recognize when a thought ends and a new one begins.

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For the study, the researchers created brain scans of 184 test persons. Then they estimated the length of the individual thoughts and calculated several thousand different thought patterns per person and day. This is how they came up with an average of 6,200 thoughts.

Everyone thinks in individual patterns

The neuroscientist Henning Beck explains how the beginning and end of a thought can be recognized using an example: If you ask a person to think of bread, a bread pattern is activated in their brain. If you then ask them to think of an apple, the bread will be followed by the apple pattern. Since the nerve cells synchronize again individually in each person during the transition from one pattern to the other, these transitions can be recognized and measured, says Henning Beck.

"You can measure the different states that a brain assumes."
Henning Beck, neuroscientist

However, the measurements of the study are only very rough. Instead of analyzing a thought in detail, the researchers only measured the rough transitions from one big thought to another big thought.

We can't think of anything

Thoughts never come out of nowhere, but always arise from what was previously thought. Our brain is constantly thinking, explains Henning Beck. The brain is also very active when meditating.

"The brain thinks constantly. Every thought develops out of a thought."
Henning Beck, neuroscientist

But why do the endless thought carousels always appear when we are about to fall asleep? When we brood, certain networks in the brain jump into action. These brooding thoughts favor themselves again and again because our brain has too few other distractions in bed and we are only concerned with ourselves.