2020 – 27th Annual Conference, Belgrade

Speakers, Presentations & Workshops

Deborah Költzsch

Wasting Time Meaningfully – a Demystification of Lacking Concentration in the Classroom

The first part of this scientific poster will illustrate and demystify the common misunderstanding about the lack of concentration in the classroom. For this purpose, it will explain the DMN, a brain network discovered by Raichle and his team in 2001, depicting the surprising fact that the human brain is quite efficacious while apparently doing nothing at all. What is most interesting about this specific neuronal network is the fact that it is not only active during half of all our waking hours (Killingsworth & Gilbert, 2010) but also leads to numerous cognitive advantages ranging from personal development over emotional well-being all the way to the support of creativity (Baird et al., 2012; Gable, Hopper & Schooler, 2019; Immordino-Yang, 2016; Medea et al., 2018; Sunavksy & Poppenk, 2019).

Taken all these positive aspects into account, it becomes clear that this network and, hence, this apparent “waste of time” linked to it are able to encourage a more social and stress relieved educational setting if incorporated appropriately. However, even though the research field on this topic is currently expanding, it is still very disordered containing a variety of findings. Moreover, there is almost no research linking this advantageous network to educational practices. Therefore, the second part of the poster depicts the results of a systematic review done on recent research of the last 10 years. This evidence is then, in the final part, applied to the educational field in the shape of practical tips and tricks. Examples thereof are reconsidering lesson and complete school-day structures, reducing performance pressure, focusing on progress and perceiving mistakes as learning efforts, balancing between phases of concentration and rest, or implementation of exercise to stimulate mind-wandering activities. Possible activities entail storytelling, simulations, or the use of background music.

After all, the DMN itself does not bring about successful and stress-relieved learning, but the knowledge about its functions and its correct implementation ensures that precious learning time is not wasted but wasted mindfully.


I am a research assistant and doctoral candidate at Heiner Boettger’s LEARLab at the Catholic University of Eichstaett-Ingolstadt. My current research areas involve mind wandering, the default mode network and creativity. Using mobile eyetracking and EEG devices, I also focuse on aspects of synchronisation in communication.