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Tests of working memory capacity (WMC) and fluid intelligence (gF) are thought to capture variability in a crucial cognitive capacity that is broadly predictive of success, yet pinpointing the exact nature of this capacity is an area of ongoing controversy. We propose that mind-wandering is associated with performance on tests of WMC and gF, thereby partially explaining both the reliable correlations between these tests and their broad predictive utility. Existing evidence indicates that both WMC and gF are correlated with performance on tasks of attention, yet more decisive evidence requires an assessment of the role of attention and, in particular, mind-wandering during performance of these tests. Four studies employing complementary methodological designs embedded thought sampling into tests of general aptitude and determined that mind-wandering was consistently associated with worse performance on these measures. Collectively, these studies implicate the capacity to avoid mind-wandering during demanding tasks as a potentially important source of success on measures of general aptitude, while also raising important questions about whether the previously documented relationship between WMC and mind-wandering can be exclusively attributed to executive failures preceding mind-wandering (McVay & Kane, 2010b). (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved).
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... Such skills have recently been shown to reduce mind-wandering [29,34,38,39]. Mindwandering refers to thoughts that are not tied to the immediate task and can be linked with decreased performance on different measures including working memory capacity [40]. Furthermore, recent research suggest that mindfulness training can reduce the effect of mind-wandering and its effect on working memory capacity during high stress [35,39], enhances attention [41], increases backward digit memory span [42]. ...
... These results are consistent with previous findings on mindfulness' effects on mind wandering and stress [29,30,44]. This study also contributes to the understanding, that whether the intervention is an 8-week MBSR course, 4-week usage of a mindfulness app, or a 10-min on the spot exercise, it has a salutary effect on sustained attention [40,44,67,68]. ...
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Background Occupational stress has huge financial as well as human costs. Application of crowdsourcing might be a way to strengthen the investigation of occupational mental health. Therefore, the aim of the study was to assess Danish employees’ stress and cognition by relying on a crowdsourcing approach, as well as investigating the effect of a 30-day mindfulness and music intervention. Methods We translated well-validated neuropsychological laboratory- and task-based paradigms into an app-based platform using cognitive games measuring sustained attention and working memory and measuring stress via. Cohen’s Perceived Stress Scale. A total of 623 healthy volunteers from Danish companies participated in the study and were randomized into three groups, which consisted of a 30-day intervention of either mindfulness or music, or a non-intervention control group. Results Participants in the mindfulness group showed a significant improvement in the coefficient of sustained attention, working memory capacity and perceived stress ( p < .001). The music group showed a 38% decrease of self-perceived stress. The control group showed no difference from pre to post in the survey or cognitive outcome measures. Furthermore, there was a significant correlation between usage of the mindfulness and music app and elevated score on both the cognitive games and the perceived stress scale. Conclusion The study supports the nascent field of crowdsourcing by being able to replicate data collected in previous well-controlled laboratory studies from a range of experimental cognitive tasks, making it an effective alternative. It also supports mindfulness as an effective intervention in improving mental health in the workplace.
... We also included a demographics survey, as well as the Wordsum test [a brief vocabulary test that correlates well with full-scale measures of intelligence; Huang and Hauser (1998)]. We included these measures to explore how rates of thought constraint might be related to age (Maillet & Schacter, 2016) and/or verbal intelligence THOUGHT DYNAMICS UNDER TASK DEMANDS 23 (e.g., Mrazek et al., 2012), respectively. We ran two samples, both pre-registered prior to data collection (Sample 1: https://osf.io/2djqf; ...
... On the one hand, constrained on-task thought was positively associated with verbal intelligence. This is consistent with prior studies that have found a relationship between mind wandering and intelligence (e.g., Mrazek et al., 2012). On the other hand, we found a small, positive association between unconstrained off-task thought and verbal intelligence and a negative association between unconstrained on-task thought and verbal intelligence. ...
Article
As research on mind wandering has accelerated, the construct's defining features have expanded and researchers have begun to examine different dimensions of mind wandering. Recently, Christoff and colleagues have argued for the importance of investigating a hitherto neglected variety of mind wandering: "unconstrained thought," or, thought that is relatively unguided by executive-control processes. To date, with only a few studies investigating unconstrained thought, little is known about this intriguing type of mind wandering. Across 2 experiments, we examined, for the first time, whether changes in task demand influence rates of constrained versus unconstrained thoughts. In both experiments, participants completed either an easy (0-back) or hard (2-back) task and responded to intermittently presented thought probes that gauged thought constraint throughout the task. In Experiment 1, we found that participants completing the easy task engaged in unconstrained thoughts more frequently than those completing the difficult task. In Experiment 2, we replicated this result and further demonstrated manipulations of unconstrained thought while also measuring task-relatedness (a common dimension of mind wandering). Finally, exploratory analyses showed associations between constrained thought and age, verbal intelligence, and an assessment of flow ('deep effortless concentration'), thereby adding further evidence to indicate a dissociation between task-relatedness and constraint. We discuss the methodological and theoretical applications of our findings to the burgeoning field of research on unconstrained thought. All data, analysis, article, and experiment code can be found at https://osf.io/wr2vk/ (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved).
... Mind-wandering refers to thoughts that are not tied to the immediate task and can be linked with decreased performance on different measures including working memory capacity [40]. Furthermore, recent research suggest that mindfulness training can reduce the effect of mind-wandering and its effect on working memory capacity during high stress [39,35], enhances attention [41], increases backward digit memory span [42]. ...
... These results are consistent with previous ndings on mindfulness' effects on mind wandering and stress [29,30,43]. This study also contributes to the understanding, that whether the intervention is an 8-week MBSR course, 4-week usage of a mindfulness app, or a 10-min on the spot exercise, it has a reducing effect on mind wandering [64,65,40,43]. ...
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Background Occupational stress has huge financial as well as human costs. Application of crowdsourcing might be a way to strengthen the investigation of occupational mental health. Therefore, the aim of the study was to assess Danish employees’ stress and cognition by relying on a crowdsourcing approach, as well as investigating the effect of a 30-day mindfulness and music intervention. Methods We translated well-validated neuropsychological laboratory- and task-based paradigms into an app-based platform using cognitive games measuring mind wandering and working memory and measuring stress via. Cohen’s Perceived Stress Scale. A total of 623 healthy volunteers from Danish companies participated in the study and were randomized into three groups, which consisted of a 30-day intervention of either mindfulness or music, or a non-intervention control group. Results Participants in the mindfulness group showed a significant improvement in the coefficient of mind wandering, working memory capacity and perceived stress (p < .001). The music group showed a 38% decrease of self-perceived stress. The control group showed no difference from pre to post in the survey or cognitive outcome measures. Furthermore, there was a significant correlation between usage of the mindfulness and music app and elevated score on both the cognitive games and the Perceived Stress Scale. Conclusion The study supports the nascent field of crowdsourcing by being able to replicate data collected in previous well-controlled laboratory studies from a range of experimental cognitive tasks, making it an effective alternative. It also supports mindfulness as an effective intervention in improving mental health in the workplace.
... Mind wandering was not collected in the WMC tasks because their duration was too short to generate meaningful statements about TUTs. Furthermore, WMC was only included as a covariate in the analyses and not as a whole experiment as previous studies (e.g., Mrazek et al., 2012). ...
Article
Many prior theories have tried to explain the relationship between attentional processes and mind wandering. The resource-demand matching view argues that a mismatch between task demands and resources led to more mind wandering. This study aims to test this view against competing models by inducing mind wandering through increasing the level of demands via adding a prospective memory task to cognitively demanding tasks like reading. We hypothesized that participants with a second task still in mind (unfinished group) engage more in task-unrelated thoughts (TUTs) and show less text comprehension compared to participants who think a second task is finished (finished group). Seventy-two participants had to study 24 items of a to-do list for a recall test. After a first cued recall of ten items, participants were either told that a second task was finished or that the recall was interrupted and continued later. All participants then started reading an easy or difficult version of the same unfamiliar hypertext, while being thought probed. Text comprehension measures followed. As expected, participants in the unfinished group showed significantly more TUTs than participants in the finished group when reading difficult texts, but, contrary to our assumptions, did not show better text comprehension measures when reading difficult text. Nevertheless, participants compensate for the influence of the second task by reading longer, which in turn has a positive effect on their reading knowledge. These findings support the resource-demand-matching model and thus strengthen assumptions about the processing of attention during reading.
... Moreover, the ability to sustain attention to task goals and prevent lapses in sustained attention is an important contributor to scores on measures of working memory capacity. Mrazek et al. (2012) reported that self-reports of mind wandering were negatively related to performance on working memory complex span tasks (reading and operation span). In another study, Unsworth and Robison (2016) found that when participants reported more mind wandering their working memory performance (assessed using a change detection task) was worse compared to when they reported being on-task. ...
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Sustained attention and working memory are two closely intertwined executive functions that may underlie inattentive behavior. However, little research has teased apart their precise contributions in a single study. This study examines the extent to which ratings of children’s inattentive behavior are associated with these executive functions. Specifically, we investigated the unique and overlapping statistical contributions of sustained attention capacity and working memory capacity to parent and teacher ratings of inattentive behavior (operationalized as scores on both the Inattentive and Hyperactive/Impulsive scales of the Conners’ Rating Scale), while controlling for IQ. Children aged 8–11 years completed measures of sustained attention capacity, working memory capacity and IQ. Parents and teachers completed Conners-3 Parent and Teacher Short Forms, as a measure of inattentive behavior. We found that the unique statistical contribution of sustained attention capacity emerged as the most important factor in both parent and teacher ratings of inattentive behavior, with effects of moderate magnitude. In contrast, working memory capacity accounted for a small amount of variance. The overlap between sustained attention and working memory explained a small but substantive amount of variance in inattentive behavior. These findings support the idea that sustained attention and working memory are distinct executive functions that may contribute to goal-directed behavior both uniquely and through their interactions.
... For example, we know that humans can mind wander up to 50% of their waking time (which has also been translated into~2000 mind-wandering episodes in a typical 16-h day; [11]), and that mind-wandering varies throughout the day (with lower rates early in the day, peaking at midday, and declining gradually before rising once more in the evening; [12]). While mind-wandering leads to incubation effects on creativity [13] and confers great mental freedom, allowing the planning of personally relevant future goals [14], it also carries significant costs to task performance [15,16]. For instance, mind-wandering during complex tasks that demand continuous attention, such as reading, is frequent and linked to detrimental effects on comprehension [17]. ...
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Research has shown that mind-wandering, negative mood, and poor wellbeing are closely related, stressing the importance of exploring contexts or tools that can stimulate positive thoughts and images. While music represents a promising option, work on this topic is still scarce with only a few studies published, mainly featuring laboratory or online music listening tasks. Here, I used the experience sampling method for the first time to capture mind-wandering during personal music listening in everyday life, aiming to test for the capacity of music to facilitate beneficial styles of mind-wandering and to explore its experiential characteristics. Twenty-six participants used a smart-phone application that collected reports of thought, mood, and emotion during music listening or other daily-life activities over 10 days. The application was linked to a music playlist, specifically assembled to induce positive and relaxing emotions. Results showed that mind-wandering evoked during music and non-music contexts had overall similar characteristics, although some minor differences were also observed. Most importantly, music-evoked emotions predicted thought valence, thereby indicating music as an effective tool to regulate thoughts via emotion. These findings have important applications for music listening in daily life as well as for the use of music in health interventions.
... Wang et al., 2020;, and that this often depends on the situation in which thoughts arise (Levinson et al., 2012;Robison et al., 2020;Rummel & Boywitt, 2014;Turnbull, Wang, Schooler, et al., 2019). In our study we measured fluid intelligence using Raven's matrices and found that accuracy correlated positively with task focus (replicating prior studies linking executive control to on-task thoughts: (Kane et al., 2007;Levinson et al., 2012;McVay & Kane, 2012a;2012b;McVay, Kane, & Kwapil, 2009;Mrazek et al., 2012;Rummel & Boywitt, 2014)) across both age groups. This finding seems to suggest that it is unlikely that aging executive functions are responsible for reductions in mind wandering, which is in line with null findings from Moran et al. (2021). ...
Article
Understanding how age-related changes in cognition manifest in the real world is an important goal. One means of capturing these changes involves “experience sampling” participant’s self-reported thoughts. Research has shown age-related changes in ongoing thought: e.g., older adults have fewer thoughts unrelated to the here-and-now. However, it is currently unclear how these changes reflect cognitive aging or lifestyle changes. 78 younger adults and 35 older adults rated their thought contents along 20 dimensions and the difficulty of their current activity in their daily lives. They also performed cognitive tasks in the laboratory. In a set of exploratory analyses, we found that older adults spent more time thinking positive, wanted thoughts, particularly in demanding contexts, and less time mind wandering about their future selves. Past-related thought related to episodic memory differently in older and younger adults. These findings inform the use of experience sampling to understand cognitive aging.
Chapter
Mind wandering plays a significant role in the psychological construction of possible worlds. It has a functional connection with pretend play, autobiographical planning, and creativity.
Article
Attention has multiple influences on visual working memory (VWM). Fluctuations in sustained attention predict VWM performance. Furthermore, focusing selective attention in VWM by retro-cuing the to-be-tested item during maintenance boosts retrieval. So far, we lack knowledge how the ability to focus selective attention relates to the state of sustained attention during the VWM trial. Here, we combined a retro-cue task and a self-rated attention protocol to test whether focusing selective attention via retro-cues: (1) mitigates spontaneous attention fluctuations, in which case retro-cues should be more helpful under low levels of self-rated attention; (2) depends on an optimal state of sustained attention, in which case retro-cue benefits should be largest under high levels of self-rated attention; or (3) is independent of sustained attention, in which case retro-cue benefits and self-rated attention effects should be additive. Our data supported the additive hypothesis. Across four experiments, self-rated attention levels predicted continuous reproduction of colors. Retro-cue trials produced better recall and higher rated attention. Critically, retro-cues improved recall to a similar extent across all levels of self-rated attention. This indicates that attention has multi-faceted and independent contributions to VWM.
Article
Mind wandering, the direction of attention away from a primary task, has the potential to interfere with learning, especially in increasingly common self‐directed learning environments. By integrating self‐regulated learning and mind wandering theories, we developed three interventions to encourage on‐task focus in a self‐directed training environment. We tested these self‐regulation interventions in two experiments: a field study with working adults (Study 1, N = 133) and a lab study with college students (Study 2, N = 175) where participants completed a self‐directed online Excel training. Overall, results from the two studies demonstrated that mind wandering negatively harms self‐directed training outcomes, including knowledge, self‐efficacy, and trainee reactions. The strength of these effects differed between samples, with mind wandering more harmful in Study 2 where the participants were significantly less motivated. There was little evidence that the self‐regulation interventions significantly influenced mind wandering or training outcomes when compared to a control group. However, correlational results suggest possible deterrents of mind wandering, including mindfulness, metacognitive monitoring, implementation intentions, and environmental structuring. Drawing from our multidisciplinary theoretical integration and the empirical results presented here, we provide recommendations for future theoretical development and applied research to reduce off‐task thought and enhance performance in self‐directed training.
Chapter
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This chapter shows how immediate memory represents a distinct system or set of processes from long memory. Working memory (WM) was proposed as a dynamic system that enabled active maintenance of task-relevant information in support of the simultaneous execution of complex cognitive tasks. Working memory span tasks measure executive attention processes that are believed to be domain general and contribute to WM span performance irrespective of the skills or the stimuli involved. WM span tasks reflect primarily general executive processes and domain-specific rehearsal and storage processes. Thus, executive processes help maintain or recover access to the target items in the absence of focal attention and effective rehearsal procedures. WM capacity variation, which is driven largely by individual differences in executive attention processes, represents a web of inference across correlational and experimental studies.
Chapter
The Raven Progressive Matrices (RPM) tests measure “general cognitive ability” or, better, eductive, or “meaning making,” ability (Raven, Raven, & Court, 1998a,2000). The term “eductive” comes from the Latin root educere, which means, “to draw out.” The basic version of the test, known as the Standard Progressive Matrices (or SPM), consists of five sets of items of the kind shown in Figures 11.1 and 11.2. Within each set, the items become progressively more difficult. At the beginning of each set, the items, although easy again, follow a different logic. The sets in turn become progressively more difficult. The five sets offer those taking the test five opportunities to become familiar with the method of thought required to solve the problems. In addition to the Standard series, there is the Coloured Progressive Matrices (CPM), which is designed to spread the scores of children and less able adults and the Advanced Progressive Matrices (APM), developed to spread the scores of the top 20% of the population.
Book
Working memory - the ability to keep important information in mind while comprehending, thinking, and acting - varies considerably from person to person and changes dramatically during each person's life. Understanding such individual and developmental differences is crucial because working memory is a major contributor to general intellectual functioning. This volume offers an understanding variation in working memory by presenting comparisons of the leading theories. It incorporates views from the different research groups that operate on each side of the Atlantic, and covers working-memory research on a wide variety of populations, including healthy adults, children with and without learning difficulties, older adults, and adults and children with neurological disorders. Each research group explicitly addresses the same set of theoretical questions, from the perspective of both their own theoretical and experimental work, and from the perspective of relevant alternative approaches. Through these questions, each research group considers their overarching theory of working memory, specifies the critical sources of working memory variation according to their theory, reflects on the compatibility of their approach with other approaches, and assesses their contribution to general working-memory theory. This shared focus across chapters unifies the volume and highlights the similarities and differences among the various theories. Each chapter includes both a summary of research positions and a detailed discussion of each position.
Article
A study was conducted in which 133 participants performed 11 memory tasks (some thought to reflect working memory and some thought to reflect short-term memory), 2 tests of general fluid intelligence, and the Verbal and Quantitative Scholastic Aptitude Tests. Structural equation modeling suggested that short-term and working memories reflect separate but highly related constructs and that many of the tasks used in the literature as working memory tasks reflect a common construct. Working memory shows a strong connection to fluid intelligence, but short-term memory does not. A theory of working memory capacity and general fluid intelligence is proposed: The authors argue that working memory capacity and fluid intelligence reflect the ability to keep a representation active, particularly in the face of interference and distraction. The authors also discuss the relationship of this capability to controlled attention, and the functions of the prefrontal cortex.
Article
This chapter describes the nature of working memory capacity (WMC), and addresses the nature of WMC limitations, their effects on higher order cognitive tasks, their relationship to attention control and general fluid intelligence, and their neurological substrates. Much of work explores these issues in the context of individual differences in WMC and the cause of those individual differences. Measures of WMC are highly reliable and highly valid indicators of some construct of clear relevance to feral cognition. Macroanalytic studies have demonstrated that the construct reflected by WMC tasks has a strong relationship with gF above and beyond what these tasks share with simple span tasks. The conflict might also arise from stimulus representations of competing strength. This two-factor model fits with current thinking about the role of two brain structures: the prefrontal cortex as important to the maintenance of information in an active and easily accessible state and the anterior cingulate as important to the detection and resolution of conflict.