Is your mind constantly going? Do you get lost in your own thoughts? Have you been accused of overthinking? If so, you might be an introvert. Laurie Helgoe, author of Introvert Power: Why Your Inner Life Is Your Hidden Strength, explains how introverts are more “in their heads” than extroverts are:
Extroverts may have more going on socially, but we’ve got more going on upstairs. The ‘more’ in the heads of introverts doesn’t refer to more intelligence or creativity, but to the preference for incubating—rather than quickly acting on—thoughts and impressions. The activity center for introverts is inside, not outside. When an introvert sees an image or hears a question, ideas get tossed around inside while the surface stays calm; an extrovert is more likely to toss out quick impressions and process them out in the open.
Science reveals the reason why introverts focus inward. Research shows that when introverts process incoming information—like listening to someone talking or taking in our surroundings—something interesting happens. The part of our brain that involves higher-order thinking becomes very active:
Imaging equipment is now able to observe what happens inside the brain when a stimulus—like an image or question—is presented. When scientists peek inside the stimulated introvert brain, they often observe a flood of activity in the frontal cortex. The frontal cortex is the command center for our more complex mental activities—the ones that involve taking in data, integrating it with stored information, and generating higher-order solutions and responses. The more we take into account and process, the more we require inward focus and attention.
So if it seems like introverts are often lost in thought, it’s because there really is a massive amount of activity going on inside our heads. It should come as no surprise, then, that introverts like calm environments and solitude. The more we can quiet outside stimulation, the more we can focus on our expansive inner world of thoughts and ideas. In this treasured inner realm, we feel free and energized.
Are you an introvert? What’s your personality type? We recommend this free, quick test from our partner Personality Hacker.
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