Here's How Imagination Works

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Our imagination allows us to do more than just daydream. It sparks new ideas and helps us visualize ourselves achieving that next great goal in life. It’s something we depend on every day, whether we’re faced with an issue at work or deciding what ingredients to cobble together for dinner. But have you ever wondered how your imagination works?


Like many functions of the human mind, scientists still don’t fully understand imagination. It’s thought that imagination involves a network that helps share information across different regions of the brain. These different regions all work together to form mental images in our head. This is no easy task: Researchers found that as many as 12 different brain regions are involved when people imagine rotating a shape in their mind. When you use your imagination, you’re really firing up a lot of brainpower!

The same parts of the brain involved in understanding the world around us are involved in creating mental pictures of that world, meaning that what we imagine is shaped by what we see all the time. There are three certain factors that guide how we imagine: our environment, our memories, and the inherent rules we know about how the world works.


What does this mean for you? Drawing upon past knowledge and experience is what allows us to find new solutions to problems we face every day. It’s how we come up with new business ideas, visualize unique recipes, invent new games to play with our kids, and generally create. In addition to being able to solve problems and come up with new ideas, there are countless benefits of having an active imagination.

Imagination can also allow us to visualize where we want to be in the future as we set out to achieve goals in life. You can’t create a plan of action or set a goal without being able to picture yourself achieving it. One study showed that being able to imagine a scene helps us plan the steps we need to take to reach a goal.


Imagination is a fundamental element of us as human beings. It can manifest in multiple ways and feel more tangible at certain times, but it’s always there and can provide a big boost to your well-being and your creativity. If you find yourself in need of a good imagination session, but are finding it tough to get rolling, there are some ways to kickstart your imagination.

Try not to focus too hard on trying to locate your imagination. Putting too much pressure on yourself to imagine may actually inhibit your ability to find what you are looking for. Rather, take a little bit of time to unwind and let your thoughts naturally arrange themselves until you feel relaxed and comfortable. Harness the thoughts that naturally enter your mind to then mentally adapt them into a story or picture in your head. Let your body do the hard work and then pick up when you feel most comfortable. Sometimes the best thought just needs a little unlocking. Let your mind wander to attract that unconscious part of your brain, which can tap into your imagination and set you on your way.