The Anatomy Of Rest


Does The Brain Rest?20160920


Sit down, relax and think of nothing. Struggling? There might be a good reason why your mind seems to wander even when you try very hard to switch off: your brain never really rests. And contrary to popular belief, those idle daydreams might even be beneficial. For years, neuroscientists worked on the assumption that our brains work hard when given a specific job to do, and switch off when we're not mentally stimulated. This is why you'll read about experiments in which volunteers perform a task - tapping a finger, performing some mental arithmetic, looking at evocative pictures - while their brain is scanned. The scan reveals which parts of the brain become more active during the task and which become less active.

But neuroscientists were surprised to discover that when the brain is supposedly resting it's actually more active. This suggests that day dreaming, or mind wandering as psychologists call it, must have a purpose. Claudia Hammond travels to Leipzig to discover what neuroscientists are finding about how the brain at rest uses energy and the links to creativity.

Claudia Hammond looks at the brain at rest, and mind wandering and its role in creativity.


Finding Rest In The Modern World: Rest Test Results20160927


The Rest Test is an online survey of rest and is part of a ground breaking collaboration of artists, scientists and historians known as Hubbub, looking at the elusive quality of rest in our modern world. For the last two years Hubbub's been exploring the dynamics of rest, noise, activity and work in the arts, everyday life, neuroscience and mental health. BBC Radio 4, BBC World Service and Hubbub launched the Rest Test in autumn last year and more than 18,000 people from 134 countries took part. It's the biggest survey of what rest means both in Britain and globally.

Claudia Hammond, with the help of guests Lemn Sissay, Robin Ince, Claire Martin, Kathleen Jamie, Felicity Callard and Jules Evans, reveals the results to a live audience in Wellcome Collection's historic Reading Room.

What are the top five most restful activities and who gets more rest, men or women?

Claudia Hammond and guests reveal the rest test results and analyse how the UK relaxes.


The Quest For Rest20160913


Rest sounds like a straightforward topic. We think we know what it is. Until you start to look closely and then it's not so simple. Over the last two years Claudia Hammond has been working at the Wellcome Collection in London as part of a team called Hubbub - a group including psychologists, artists, poets, neuroscientists, musicians, historians and sociologists - all coming together to examine the topic of rest.

In the first of three programmes Claudia attempts to define rest. Is it the absence of work? Does it have to mean doing nothing? Claudia discusses the concept of rest with a historian, a composer, a poet and an English literature scholar.

Claudia Hammond asks: Is rest the absence of work? Does it have to mean doing nothing?