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Although anecdotes that creative thoughts often arise when one is engaged in an unrelated train of thought date back thousands of years, empirical research has not yet investigated this potentially critical source of inspiration. We used an incubation paradigm to assess whether performance on validated creativity problems (the Unusual Uses Task, or UUT) can be facilitated by engaging in either a demanding task or an undemanding task that maximizes mind wandering. Compared with engaging in a demanding task, rest, or no break, engaging in an undemanding task during an incubation period led to substantial improvements in performance on previously encountered problems. Critically, the context that improved performance after the incubation period was associated with higher levels of mind wandering but not with a greater number of explicitly directed thoughts about the UUT. These data suggest that engaging in simple external tasks that allow the mind to wander may facilitate creative problem solving.
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Psychological Science
The online version of this article can be found at:
DOI: 10.1177/0956797612446024
2012 23: 1117 originally published online 31 August 2012Psychological Science
Benjamin Baird, Jonathan Smallwood, Michael D. Mrazek, Julia W. Y. Kam, Michael S. Franklin and Jonathan W. Schooler
Inspired by Distraction : Mind Wandering Facilitates Creative Incubation
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DOI: 10.1177/0956797612446024
Anecdotes of individuals solving problems after relinquishing
the effort to solve them date back millennia. Indeed, many
influential scientific thinkers—including Newton, Poincaré,
and Einstein—claim to have had their moments of inspiration
while engaged in thoughts or activities not deliberately aimed
at solving the problem they were trying to solve. A key ques-
tion that arises from such examples is whether engaging in any
type of unrelated cognition increases the frequency of creative
solutions, or whether the thoughts that yield such insights have
specific features.
One common example of thinking that is unrelated to an
overt goal is the internally generated thought that occupies
one’s attention during mind wandering (Smallwood & Schooler,
2006). Several lines of research suggest that mind wandering
could be linked to enhanced creativity, particularly for prob-
lems that have been previously encountered. First, individuals
with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (which is known
to be associated with mind wandering; e.g., Shaw & Giambra,
1993) tend to score higher than individuals without ADHD on
laboratory measures of creativity (White & Shah, 2006) and on
questionnaire-based assessments of achievement in creative
areas (e.g., music, visual arts; White & Shah, 2011).
Second, focused deliberation on problems can under mine
creativity, whereas distraction can enhance creativity
(Dijksterhuis & Meurs, 2006). Third, a recent meta-analysis
of the conditions that maximize incubation effects (i.e.,
enhanced creative problem solving following a break) found
that the benefits of incubation intervals are greater when indi-
viduals are occupied by an undemanding task than when they
engage in either a demanding task or no task at all (Sio &
Ormerod, 2009). Given that mind wandering is more frequent in
undemanding tasks than in demanding tasks (e.g., Mason et al.,
2007; Smallwood, Nind, & O’Connor, 2009), this finding sug-
gests that one feature that may characterize successful incuba-
tion intervals could be the opportunity for mind wandering.
Finally, a recent investigation found that when individuals
engaged in REM sleep during an incubation interval, they
showed enhanced integration of unassociated information
in the service of creative problem solving (Cai, Mednick,
Corresponding Author:
Benjamin Baird, Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Building
429, Room 102, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA 93106-9660
Inspired by Distraction: Mind Wandering
Facilitates Creative Incubation
Benjamin Baird
, Jonathan Smallwood
, Michael D. Mrazek
Julia W. Y. Kam
, Michael S. Franklin
, and
Jonathan W. Schooler
Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, University of California, Santa Barbara;
for Social Neuroscience, Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive Brain Sciences, Leipzig, Germany;
Department of Psychology, University of British Columbia
Although anecdotes that creative thoughts often arise when one is engaged in an unrelated train of thought date back
thousands of years, empirical research has not yet investigated this potentially critical source of inspiration. We used an
incubation paradigm to assess whether performance on validated creativity problems (the Unusual Uses Task, or UUT) can
be facilitated by engaging in either a demanding task or an undemanding task that maximizes mind wandering. Compared
with engaging in a demanding task, rest, or no break, engaging in an undemanding task during an incubation period led
to substantial improvements in performance on previously encountered problems. Critically, the context that improved
performance after the incubation period was associated with higher levels of mind wandering but not with a greater number
of explicitly directed thoughts about the UUT. These data suggest that engaging in simple external tasks that allow the mind
to wander may facilitate creative problem solving.
creativity, consciousness, insight
Received 12/26/11; Revision accepted 3/29/12
Research Report
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1118 Baird et al.
Harrison, Kanady, & Mednick, 2009). Although REM sleep is
very different from mind wandering, the fact that the formation
of associative networks during dreaming can lead to incubation
effects is certainly consistent with the prospect that the loose
associative processes of mind wandering (e.g., Smallwood,
Obonsawin, & Heim, 2003) might have similar effects.
However, caution must be taken in drawing firm conclu-
sions from the results of these studies; to date, no published
study has directly compared the effects of incubation intervals
of systematically varying difficulty within a single experi-
ment, nor has any study directly assessed the occurrence of
mind wandering during incubation. Furthermore, there are at
least two competing interpretations of the beneficial effects of
tasks with a light cognitive load: Easy tasks may simply allow
individuals a greater opportunity to explicitly think about pre-
vious problems, or easy tasks may encourage a global mental
set (e.g., Förster, Friedman, & Liberman, 2004) that might
facilitate creativity independently of any specific benefit of
The study reported here used an incubation paradigm to
compare the effects of interpolated tasks that systematically
varied in their levels of attentional demand and thus in their
conduciveness to mind wandering. The tasks were interpo-
lated into the Unusual Uses Task (UUT), a classic and widely
used measure of divergent thinking (Guilford, 1967). The
UUT was selected because it yields particularly consistent and
robust incubation effects (Ellwood, Pallier, Snyder, & Gallate,
2009; Sio & Ormerod, 2009), unlike convergent-thinking
tasks (such as the Remote Associates Task), which have been
more prone to empirical inconsistencies (Vul & Pashler, 2007).
The UUT requires participants to generate as many unusual
uses as possible for a common object, such as a brick, in a set
amount of time. The originality of the responses is taken as an
index of creative thinking (e.g., Milgram & Milgram, 1976;
Torrance, 2008; Wallach & Kogan, 1965).
Following the procedure in Cai et al. (2009), we assessed
participants’ performance on UUT problems that were pre-
sented both before and after the incubation interval (repeated
exposure) and on UUT problems that were presented for the
first time after the incubation interval (new exposure). These
exposure conditions allowed us to distinguish between two
different types of improvements in problem solving: incuba-
tion effects (repeated-exposure condition), which correspond
to enhanced processing of previously encountered informa-
tion, and general increases in creative problem solving (new-
exposure condition), which could correspond to general
improvements in creative thinking or to other general facilita-
tive effects (e.g., arousal or fatigue).
We had four hypotheses for this study. First, we expected
that participants would exhibit more mind wandering in
an interpolated undemanding task than in an interpolated
demanding task, which would replicate previous findings that
attentional demand reduces mind wandering (Smallwood
et al., 2009). Given these anticipated differences in mind wan-
dering, we hypothesized, second, that the creative benefits of
incubation would be greater for participants who engaged in
the undemanding task than for participants who engaged in the
demanding task and, third, that this effect would not be attrib-
utable to a greater number of explicit thoughts about the previ-
ously encountered problems. Finally, we hypothesized that
performance would selectively improve on repeated-exposure
problems (i.e., not on new problems) following the undemand-
ing task, which would indicate that the performance improve-
ments resulted from an incubation process rather than a general
increase in creative problem solving.
One hundred forty-five participants (35 males, 110 females)
completed the experiment (age range: 19–32 years) as partial
fulfillment of a course requirement. Informed consent was
obtained from all participants, and ethical approval for the
study was obtained from the University of California, Santa
Barbara, institutional review board.
Baseline UUT. Participants were randomly assigned to work
on two UUT problems (2 min per problem) in which they were
instructed to list as many unusual uses as possible for each
stimulus. Participants typed their responses on a computer,
directly into a text box that automatically expired after 2 min.
Incubation. After completing the baseline UUT, participants
were assigned to one of four between-subjects conditions, using
a counterbalanced design. In three of these conditions (demand-
ing task, undemanding task, and rest), the baseline UUT was
followed by an incubation period that lasted 12 min. Partici-
pants in the demanding-task condition performed a 1-back
working memory task that places a strong constraint on top-
down attention, whereas those in the undemanding-task condi-
tion performed a choice reaction time task (0-back) requiring
infrequent responses. Studies have shown that tasks without a
working memory load elicit more mind wandering than tasks
with a working memory load (e.g., Smallwood et al., 2009). In
the rest condition, participants were asked to sit quietly during
the incubation interval. Participants in the fourth condition (no
break) did not receive a break from the UUT.
Immediately following the incubation interval in the
demanding-task, undemanding-task, and rest conditions, we
administered a commonly used self-report measure of mind
wandering (e.g., Barron, Riby, Greer, & Smallwood, 2011;
Matthews et al., 1999) in order to confirm differences in mind-
wandering frequency between the two task conditions. (The
questionnaire was administered following the rest interval in
the rest condition in order to maintain consistency across incu-
bation conditions.) This questionnaire asks participants to rate
how often they engaged in different types of task-unrelated
thought, such as considering personal worries or future or past
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Mind Wandering Facilitates Creative Incubation 1119
events (rating scale from 1 to 5, with higher scores indicating
higher levels of mind wandering). To assess explicit thoughts
about the creativity task, we had participants in these three
conditions complete a separate questionnaire on the frequency
of their thoughts about the creativity problems during the incu-
bation interval.
Postincubation UUT. After the incubation interval (or fol-
lowing the baseline UUT, in the case of the no-break condi-
tion), participants were informed that they would work on the
UUT again. Four UUT problems (2 min per problem) were
presented in a random order: two repeat problems (repeated-
exposure condition) that were identical to the problems pre-
sented at baseline and two randomly assigned new problems
(new-exposure condition).
Assessing propensity to mind-wander. At the end of the
experiment, all participants completed the Daydreaming Fre-
quency subscale of the Imaginal Process Inventory (IPI),
which assesses individuals’ general propensity to mind-
wander (Singer & Antrobus, 1972).
Interpolated tasks. Stimuli for the demanding and unde-
manding tasks were the digits from 1 through 9, which were
presented serially (in quasirandom order) in the center of a
computer screen for 1,000 ms each; each digit was followed
by a 1,500-ms fixation cross. In both of these tasks, nontargets
were black numbers that required no response, and nontargets
occurred frequently, whereas targets were infrequent. In the
undemanding task, targets were colored numbers, and partici-
pants had to determine whether each target stimulus was even
or odd. In the demanding task, targets were colored question
marks, and participants had to determine whether the stimulus
immediately preceding each target was even or odd. Partici-
pants in both conditions received a short practice session with
UUT. Following the procedure used by Wallach and Kogan
(1965), we pooled responses to each UUT stimulus across the
sample, and points were assigned for statistically unique
Percentage improvement on the UUT was calcu-
lated separately for each problem type (repeated exposure,
new exposure) and was compared across conditions (unde-
manding task, demanding task, rest, no break). This was calcu-
lated as [(postincubation UUT score – baseline UUT score)/
(baseline UUT score)] × 100 (see Cai et al., 2009, for a similar
analytic method). Percentage improvement was calculated at
the individual level and then averaged for each condition.
Although uniqueness scoring is the most standard method
of scoring divergent-thinking tasks (e.g., Milgram & Milgram,
1976; Torrance, 2008; Wallach & Kogan, 1965), it has been
criticized (Silvia et al., 2008) on the grounds that it may con-
found creativity with fluency (e.g., participants may receive
high creativity scores simply by virtue of generating a large
number of responses). Therefore, to assess fluency, we had
two independent raters blind to condition tabulate the number
of nonredundant responses each participant generated for each
UUT stimulus. The interrater classification of nonredundant
responses was highly reliable (α = .95). For each individual,
the two raters’ scores were averaged to yield a measure of
Mind wandering
Participants in the undemanding-task condition reported sig-
nificantly greater mind wandering (M = 2.47, SD = 0.66) in the
retrospective questionnaire than did participants in the
demanding-task condition (M = 2.15, SD = 0.67), F(1, 72) =
4.04, p < .05, η
= .05. This result replicates previous findings
that working memory load decreases the frequency of mind
An analysis of the demanding-task, undemanding-
task, and rest conditions revealed no group differences in par-
ticipants’ retrospective reports about the degree to which they
had been explicitly thinking about the previous creativity task,
F(2, 106) = 0.09, p = .90, η
= .002.
Incubation-task performance measures
No significant difference in accuracy was observed between
the undemanding task (M = .87, SD = .10) and the demanding
task (M = .88, SD = .20), F(1, 72) = 0.06, p = .80, η
= .001.
Response time to targets was significantly faster in the
demanding task (M = 518.39 ms, SD = 117.55 ms) than in
the undemanding task (M = 648.97 ms, SD = 48.21 ms), F(1,
72) = 38.93, p < .001, η
= .35. Faster response times were
expected in the demanding task because responses were based
on the previous (already-encoded) digit, whereas the unde-
manding task required participants to first encode the target
digit and then respond. This difference in response times
reflects the key difference in the structure of the two tasks: The
demanding task required that the identity of nontarget stimuli
be encoded, whereas the undemanding task did not require
that participants attend to nontarget stimuli.
UUT uniqueness scores
We first analyzed the UUT uniqueness scores using a mixed-
model analysis of variance (ANOVA) with exposure condition
(repeated exposure, new exposure) as a repeated measures fac-
tor and incubation condition (undemanding task, demanding
task, rest, no break) as a between-subjects factor. An Exposure
Condition × Incubation Condition interaction emerged, F(1,
141) = 4.98, p < .01, η
= .10. To further explore this effect, we
used univariate ANOVAs to analyze incubation-condition dif-
ferences in repeated-exposure and new-exposure UUT unique-
ness scores.
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1120 Baird et al.
Repeated-exposure condition. There was a significant
effect of incubation condition in the repeated-exposure condi-
tion, F(1, 144) = 4.99, p < .01, η
= .10. Participants who
engaged in an undemanding task during the incubation inter-
val displayed significantly greater improvement in UUT
uniqueness scores for repeated-exposure problems compared
with participants who engaged in a demanding task (p < .01),
a period of rest (p < .01), or no break (p < .01). No significant
difference in improvement was observed between participants
who received no break and those who engaged in either a
demanding task (p = .35) or a period of rest (p = .30); thus, no
incubation effect was observed in the latter two conditions
(see Fig. 1).
New-exposure condition. No incubation-condition differ-
ences were observed for improvement in uniqueness scores
for new problems, F(1, 144) = 1.01, p = .39, η
= .02 (Fig. 2).
No significant difference was observed between participants
who received no break and those who engaged in an unde-
manding task (p = .21), a demanding task (p = .70), or rest
(p = .95). Thus, there was no significant incubation effect in
any incubation condition for the new-exposure problems.
UUT fluency
Fluency scores for the repeated-exposure problems did not dif-
fer significantly between incubation conditions, F(1, 144) =
1.15, p = .39, η
= .02. This result rules out the possibility that
between-condition differences in creativity as indexed by
uniqueness scores were a result of confounding fluency and
Individual differences in mind wandering and
UUT uniqueness scores
Scores on the Daydreaming Frequency subscale of the IPI
positively correlated with UUT uniqueness scores for both
repeated-exposure problems, r = .22, p < .05, and new-
exposure problems, r = .20, p < .05. This result provides pre-
liminary evidence that individuals who mind-wander more
frequently in their daily lives may be more creative in
Although research has suggested that taking a break can facili-
tate creativity, the mechanism of this incubation effect has
remained unclear and has been the source of considerable
empirical research and theoretical debate (e.g., Dijksterhuis &
Meurs, 2006; Smith & Blankenship, 1989; Yaniv & Meyer,
1987). The study reported here demonstrated that taking a
break involving an undemanding task improved performance
on a classic creativity task (the UUT) far more than did taking
a break involving a demanding task, resting, or taking no
break. Notably, this improvement was observed only for
repeated-exposure problems, which demonstrates that it
resulted from an incubation process rather than a general
increase in creative problem solving. Together, these data cor-
roborate, within a single experiment, the conclusion of a recent
meta-analysis (Sio & Ormerod, 2009) showing that incubation
effects were larger in studies in which individuals engaged in
an undemanding interpolated task than in studies that included
a demanding interpolated task or a rest period.
Our data support the notion that specific types of unrelated
thought facilitate creative problem solving. Even though the
act of encoding information in working memory was unrelated
to the solutions of the creativity problems, no incubation effect
was observed in the demanding-task condition. Moreover, the
undemanding-task condition was not associated with increased
frequency of thoughts explicitly about the creativity problems,
but was characterized by high levels of mind wandering. Thus,
our data indicate that creative problem solutions may be facili-
tated specifically by simple external tasks (i.e., tasks not
related to the primary task) that maximize mind wandering.
The observation that performance selectively improved for
repeated-exposure problems (and not for new problems) indi-
cates that engaging in a task conducive to mind wandering
does not lead to general increases in creative problem-solving
ability. However, performance on both repeated-exposure and
Undemanding Demanding Rest No Break
Improvement on UUT (%)
Incubation Condition
Fig. 1. Improvement in Unusual Uses Task (UUT) uniqueness scores (post-
in cubation performance relative to baseline performance) for repeated-
exposure problems as a function of incubation condition. Error bars indicate
standard errors of the mean.
Undemanding Demanding Rest No Break
Improvement on UUT (%)
Incubation Condition
Fig. 2. Improvement in Unusual Uses Task (UUT) uniqueness scores
(postincubation performance relative to baseline performance) for new-
exposure problems as a function of incubation condition. Error bars indicate
standard errors of the mean.
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Mind Wandering Facilitates Creative Incubation 1121
new problems positively correlated with individuals’ general
propensity to mind-wander in everyday life (as assessed by the
IPI). This observation provides preliminary evidence that
there may be a relationship between individual differences in
mind wandering and creativity. Although this observation is
intriguing, it should be noted that this study lacked assess-
ments for a variety of other individual differences measures
(most notably, measures of inhibition) that could in principle
account for the association between propensity to mind-
wander and performance on the creativity task. An important
direction for future research will be to conduct a more thor-
ough assessment of the relationship between individual differ-
ences in mind wandering and creativity while controlling for
other factors that could contribute to this relationship.
Further research is needed to determine precisely why the
unrelated thoughts that occur during mind wandering uniquely
facilitate incubation. One possibility is that mind wandering
enhances creativity by increasing unconscious associative pro-
cessing, as predicted by the spreading-activation account of
incubation (e.g., Yaniv & Meyer, 1987; see also Dijksterhuis
& Meurs, 2006). A second possibility derives from recent neu-
roimaging work indicating that executive and default networks
interact during mind wandering (Christoff, Gordon, Small-
wood, Smith, & Schooler, 2009). Interactions between these
networks are observed relatively rarely in cognitive neurosci-
ence (although see Baird, Smallwood, & Schooler, 2011;
Gerlach, Spreng, Gilmore, & Schacter, 2011); considering that
activations in both networks are observed prior to successful
solution of insight problems (Kounios et al., 2008; Kounios
et al., 2006), engaging in tasks conducive to mind wandering
could contribute to incubation by creating a situation in which
default and executive systems mutually contribute to associa-
tive processing. Neurocognitive investigations of the brain
activations that occur during successful incubation intervals
might profitably explore this issue.
Anecdotal accounts of the inception of creative ideas have
long implicated mind wandering in the creative process. The
findings reported here provide arguably the most direct evi-
dence to date that conditions that favor mind wandering also
enhance creativity. From a theoretical perspective, this
research also helps to establish at least one benefit from
engaging in this otherwise seemingly dysfunctional mental
state. Although mind wandering may be linked to compro-
mised performance on an external task (Barron et al., 2011;
McVay & Kane, 2009) and may be a signature of unhappiness
(Killingsworth & Gilbert, 2010), it may also serve as a founda-
tion for creative inspiration.
We thank Steve Fiore for helpful discussion and James Schlegel,
Alex Weis, and Adam Haik for assistance in conducting the research.
Declaration of Conflicting Interests
The authors declared that they had no conflicts of interest with
respect to their authorship or the publication of this article.
This research was supported by the John Templeton Foundation
under Grant No. 24329, awarded to Jonathan W. Schooler. Benjamin
Baird is supported by a National Science Foundation Graduate
Research Fellowship under Grant No. DGE-0707430. Michael D.
Mrazek and Michael S. Franklin are supported through Office of
Education Grant No. R305H030235, awarded to Jonathan W.
Schooler and Jonathan Smallwood.
1. Following the procedure used by Wallach and Kogan (1965), we
categorically assigned statistically unique responses a score of 1.
Because problems were repeated in our incubation design, responses
appearing up to two times across the sample received points. An
alternative scoring method using a graded scale (from 1 to 5;
S. Fiore, personal communication, January 25, 2011) yielded nearly
identical results.
2. As noted, we also administered the mind-wandering questionnaire
following the rest interval. The score on the retrospective mind-
wandering scale in the rest condition (M = 2.35, SD = 0.57) was not
significantly different from the score on this scale in either the
undemanding-task condition (p = .44) or the demanding-task condi-
tion (p = .19), although this comparison is difficult to interpret
because the rest condition included no primary task to which internal
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... Notably, previous studies suggested that individuals with ADHD are more creative (White & Shah, 2006. As ADHD is associated with leaky attention and with distraction by irrelevant stimuli (Baird et al., 2012;Carson et al., 2003;Zabelina et al., 2016), the question is how the attentional scope of individuals with ADHD relates to their curiosity (Kidd & Hayden, 2015). It is challenging for individuals with ADHD to stay focused and to withhold their response because their likelihood of being attracted by task-irrelevant stimuli is higher. ...
... For instance, a certain degree of distractibility was found to improve flexibility in the generation of ideas (Baird et al., 2012;Carson et al., 2003), and processing of irrelevant stimuli was suggested to expand the associative network, resulting in original combinations of information (Boot et al., 2017). It was suggested that while leaky attention per se may result is some forms of attention disorders and/or psychopathology, high cognitive control would serve as a protective factor, and together with leaky attention, would support creative achievements (Zabelina, 2018). ...
Curiosity and creativity are central pillars of human growth and invention. While they have been studied extensively in isolation, the relationship between them has not yet been established. We propose that curiosity and creativity both emanate from the same mechanism of novelty-seeking. We first present a synthesis showing that curiosity and creativity are affected similarly by a number of key cognitive faculties such as memory, cognitive control, attention, and reward. We then review empirical evidence from neuroscience research, indicating that the same brain regions are involved in both curiosity and creativity, focusing on the interplay between three major brain networks: the default-mode network, the salience network, and the executive control network. After substantiating the link between curiosity and creativity, we propose a novelty-seeking model (NSM) that underlies them both and suggest that the manifestation of the NSM is governed by one's state of mind (SoM).
... Instead, MW has often been equated with poor attention and limited to situations in which a concurrent task requiring attention to external information has to be carried out . This perspective has led to the prevalent view of MW as something that tends to impair any concurrent activity, including learning, and thus should be avoided (but see, e.g., Baird et al., 2012). ...
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The present investigation deals with individual differences in habitual (trait- level) mind wandering and their effects on learning. We hypothesized that the ‘positive-constructive’ type of habitual mind wandering would promote task- related thinking and the ‘poor-attention’ type to promote task-unrelated thinking. This hypothesis was tested in a study with two-hundred participants who rated different aspects of their mind wandering in daily life in one session and completed a reading study in a second session. The reading study included thought probes, retrospective questions about readers’ thought contents, and comprehension tests after reading. In line with our hypothesis, data analysis revealed that some forms of positive-constructive mind wandering were positively associated with text-related thought, whereas poor-attention mind wandering was positively associated with text-unrelated thought. The present results add to the literature by emphasizing different types of trait-level mind wandering and their potentially opposite effects on learning.
... Indeed, deliberate MW episodes have been depicted as a beneficial experience, being initiated when it is appropriate and useful, such as during low-demanding tasks, to cope with boredom (Smallwood and Andrews-Hanna, 2013;Shepherd, 2019). Deliberate MW has also been found to be involved in idea incubation (Baird et al., 2012) or future planning (Smallwood and Andrews-Hanna, 2013;Shepherd, 2019). By contrast, spontaneous MW episodes occur mainly during demanding tasks (Smallwood and Andrews-Hanna, 2013), and may be considered as a failure of executive control, detrimental to cognitive performances (McVay and Kane, 2010;Seli et al., 2016;Shepherd, 2019). ...
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Introduction Mental restlessness reported by adult with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) has been mainly explained by excessive mind wandering. However, the description of a mind constantly on the go is also akin to racing thoughts, predominantly described in bipolar disorder. This paper aimed at disentangling mind wandering from racing thoughts in adult with ADHD. Associations between those mental phenomena and the ADHD symptomatology were also investigated. Methods To this aim, 84 adults with ADHD completed self-reported questionnaires, including the Mind Wandering-Deliberate and Mind Wandering-Spontaneous questionnaires, the Racing and Crowded Thoughts Questionnaire and the Daydreaming Frequency Scale. Factorial analysis and multiple linear regressions were performed. Results The factor analysis yielded a two-factor solution. The first factor encompassed the three facets of racing thoughts and was predicted by emotional lability. The second comprised deliberated-MW, spontaneous-MW and daydreaming, but was neither related to the ADHD symptoms, nor functional impairment. Discussion These findings suggest that MW and racing thoughts are two distinguishable mental phenomena. Racing thoughts appear to be a relevant hypothesis to explain the mental restlessness in adult ADHD.
... Studies show that frequent mind-wandering impairs performance on tasks that require sustained engagement with the external world, such as learning, reading, and driving (for a review, see Mooneyham & Schooler, 2013). Despite its negative influence on task performance, mind-wandering has been repeatedly shown to be positively related to creative cognition (Agnoli et al., 2018;Baird et al., 2012;Fox & Christoff, 2018;Gable et al., 2019;Zedelius & Schooler, 2020). ...
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In popular imagination creativity requires us to surrender control. Yet, attention is at the heart of control, and many studies show attention to play a key role in the creative process. This is partly due to the selective nature of attention—creative cognition consists of two phases, idea generation and idea evaluation, and selective processes are essential for both phases. Here, we investigate attentional (i.e., selective) mechanisms underlying each phase, using the framework of two major attention taxonomies: top-down/bottom-up and internal/external attention. We argue that creative cognition is supported by a dynamic interplay between the typically opposing sides of each taxonomy. Further, we argue that this dynamic relationship is reflected in interactions across three large-scale brain networks: the default mode (DMN), frontoparietal control (FPN), and salience (SN) networks. Our review of the evidence suggests that creative cognition is best achieved through the flexible use of multiple forms of attention, rather than through reduced attention. We thus propose a two-dimensional space, including one dimension for top-down/bottom-up attention and another for internal/external attention, which can sufficiently capture the flexibility and diversity of attentional mechanisms underlying different stages and components of creative cognition.
... Notably, this improvement was observed only for repeated-exposure problems, which demonstrates that it resulted from an incubation process rather than a general increase in creative problem solving". (Baird et al. 2012(Baird et al. , p. 1120 2 Mindfulness is to pay attention "on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally (Kabat-Zinn, 1994, p. 4)" (Carlson 2013, p. 173), "mindfulness attention reflects metacognitive monitoring of one's current experience" (p. 175) or a "specific quality of attention to moment-by-moment experience (Kabat-Zinn, 1994)", a "nonelaborative, non-judgmental, present-centered awareness in which each thought, feeling, or sensation that arises in the attentional field is acknowledged and accepted as is ' (Bishop et al., 2003, p. 31)". ...
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Introduction ....................................................................................... 9 Part I Chapter 1 The unexpected: “Epistemologically different worlds”..... 15 1.1 Introduction ................................................................. 15 1.2 Definitions .................................................................. 16 1.3 Propositions for its....................................................... 18 1.4 Propositions for Its and being ..................................... 24 1.5 The hyperverse ............................................................ 30 Part II Chapter 2 Spatial cognition................................................................ 39 2.1 Introduction - general notions...................................... 39 2.2 Retinotopic maps ......................................................... 50 2.3 Spatial navigation and cognitive maps......................... 54 2.4 Hippocampus, grid cells, head direction cells, border cells, and other technical elements regarding spatial cognition..................................................................... 75 2.5 Egocentric and allocentric representations, frames of reference, and integration ........................................... 93 2.6 Endurance problem, abstract space, “perceptual filling” and “panoramic view”.................................... 103 2.7 Parallel space, sensory modal interactions, color, language, visual mental imagery and visual perception.. 130 Chapter 3 The best achievements in cognitive neuroscience today: the fMRI experiments of Gallant’s team ........................... 147 3.1 Introduction.................................................................. 147 3.2 Nishimoto et al. (2011): “Reconstructing visual experiences from brain activity evoked by natural movies”....................................................................... 150 3.3 Huth et al. (2012): “A continuous semantic space describes the representation of thousands of object and action categories across the human brain” ........... 155 3.4 Stansbury et al. (2013): “Natural scene statistics account for the representation of scene categories in human visual cortex” .................................................. 158 3.5 Çukur et al. (2013a and 2013b): “Attention during natural vision warps semantic representation across the human brain” (and fusiform face area as example 161 8 Gabriel Vacariu Chapter 4 Multisensory integration.................................................... 164 Chapter 5 Endogenous brain activity and default mode network....... 197 5.1 Bechtel’s recent work on endogenous brain activity.... 197 5.2 More information about default network and mind wandering ................................................................... 204 5.3 Few words about consciousness in cognitive neuroscience 223 5.4 Rakover’s “methodological dualism”: the methodological differences between natural sciences (physics) and (cognitive) psychology ............................................... 227 Chapter 6 Molecules, oscillations, and cognition............................... 235 6.1 Bickle’s microneuronal level and cognition ................ 235 6.2 Molecular coherence and cognition ............................. 258 6.3 About consciousness ................................................... 269 Conclusion.......................................................................................... 273 Part III Chapter 7 The hyperontological foundations of Einstein’s theory of relativity............................................................................. 281 7.1 Introduction................................................................ 281 7.2 The special theory of relativity ................................... 286 7.3 The general theory of relativity .................................. 301 7.4 Few words about quantum mechanics ........................ 309 7.5 The results of BICEP2 (March 2014) about Big Bang, gravitational waves and inflation................................ 313 7.6 Conclusion.................................................................. 322 Appendix “Did Markus Gabriel (Bonn University) plagiarize my ideas?” ............................................................................................... 327
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Bored children begin to draw, do crafts, to fidget - or they do something bad. Others fall silent, withdraw, or become lethargic. Research on school-related boredom has focused primarily on the negative consequences of boredom, such as decreased cognitive performance, motivation or attentativeness, or disruptiveness. These negative aspects of boredom can be contrasted by the notion that boredom can promote creative performance. This paper reflects on boredom's creative and suppressive consequences as an interplay of personality traits and behavioral possibilities in school situations, on the one hand, and as an interplay of situational experiences with constituent developmental processes on the other. It is proposed that boredom is a gauge of the learner's resonance with school content, learning and/or developmental relationships. Boredom indicates a psychological need and its desideratum. Thus, both creative and suppressive potentials are inherent in boredom.
An extensive number of studies have been conducted on the relationship between daydreaming, creativity and well-being, with mixed results, nonetheless. Particularly, research has demonstrated both positive and negative effects of daydreaming on creativity and well-being, as well as of creativity on well-being. In addition, most studies have been conducted on adults. Therefore, the purpose of this survey-based study conducted in, Delhi University in May 2023 was to further explore the relationship among the aforesaid constructs on a sample of late adolescents. To this aim, 622 Indian were asked to complete three psychometrically validated scales. The following research hypotheses were proposed: H1) Daydreaming would be a statistically significant predictor of creativity; H2) Daydreaming would be a statistically significant predictor of overall distress, stress, anxiety and depression; H3) There would be a statistically significant difference in daydreaming among severity levels of stress, anxiety and depression; H4) Creativity would be a statistically significant predictor of overall distress, stress, anxiety and depression; and H5) There would be a statistically significant difference in creativity among severity levels of stress, anxiety and depression. Results showed that daydreaming was not a statistically significant predictor of creativity, but greater daydreaming was related to higher distress, stress, anxiety and depression. Furthermore, participants with higher creativity experienced greater anxiety. Nevertheless, creativity was not a statistically significant predictor of distress, stress and depression. Finally, participants with extremely severe depression displayed lower creativity than those with moderate depression. Further research is advised before practical implications are recommended.
Purpose As innovations introduce novel benefits to customers, they would need to be positioned in a way that sets them apart in the market. The purpose of this paper is to propose a novel approach for the positioning of innovations with the use of the customer imagination and, specifically, mental movies. Design/methodology/approach Using the schema approach as this study’s theoretical framework, the author proposes that innovations could be positioned using moving pictures (i.e. mental movies) instead of mental pictures (the approach traditionally taken). Findings A new conceptual framework for the positioning of innovations using mental movies is presented. In the framework, this study outlines how innovations can be positioned with the use of mental movies, and why such an approach would be beneficial. The framework outlines mixed reality, i.e. augmented reality, augmented virtuality and virtuality, as well as the metaverse and gaming as avenues for positioning innovations using mental movies. On the benefit side, the framework identifies successful market introductions, engagement and stickiness, memorability and positive emotions, uniqueness and differentiation and market share as the concrete benefits that can be achieved with this type of positioning. Originality/value The framework provides a novel approach for the positioning of innovations. It departs from existing literature by proposing that innovations can be positioned using mental movies. The framework also identifies why this approach would be beneficial for marketers and managers and provides concrete guidelines for how such a positioning can be achieved in the market.
I present an outline of the abilities and dispositions relevant for innovation in the twenty-first century. Explaining this outline, I discuss how intelligence and creativity relate to two attentional dispositions: mindfulness and mind wandering. I argue that understanding creative problem solving and innovation requires studying the interaction between intelligence, creativity, and these attentional dispositions. To do so, I summarize the twentieth-century maps of human intelligence and their limitations. Second, I use a computational metaphor to discuss the role of intelligence, creativity, and attentional dispositions in creative problem solving. Third, I review some evidence about the relationship between human abilities and attentional dispositions. Finally, to provide an illustration, I discuss the process of innovation in poetry.KeywordsIntelligenceCreativityMind wanderingMindfulnessPoetry
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After an initial period of unsuccessful work at solving a problem, a subject might either continue to work uninterruptedly or put the problem temporarily aside, returning to it later. The elusive laboratory phenomenon called “incubation” refers to superior performance for those subjects who return to the problem after a delay rather than working continuously on the problem. The forgetting-fixation hypothesis states that correct solutions are made inaccessible during initial problem solving when incorrect solutions are mistakenly retrieved. Forgetting (or decreased accessability) of fixated material should make correct solutions relatively more accessible, thus leading to incubation. Four experiments in the present study found incubation effects using a set of picture-word problems called rebuses. Misleading clues were initially presented with some of the problems, to induce fixation artificially. Greater forgetting occurred at retest for groups showing the greatest incubation effects, consistent with the forgetting-fixation hypothesis.
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Examined were the relationships between task‐unrelated thoughts (TUTs), self‐reported sensation seeking, retrospective self‐reported personality characteristics, laterality, eye dominance, and allergies in college students who were diagnosed in childhood as attention deficit/hyperactive disordered (ADHD) and in four control groups (high‐ and low‐activity males and females). Both spontaneous and deliberate TUTs were reported during a vigilance task. Left‐eye dominance was related to increased childhood hyperactive behaviors and to spontaneous TUTs. Of the five groups, subjects diagnosed as ADHD had more spontaneous TUTs and false alarms, whereas those subjects reporting high‐activity characteristics as children gave more deliberate TUTs and fewer false alarms, and low‐activity subjects responded with the fewest TUTs and false alarms. These results are consistent with the interpretation that in a boring task ADHD children have higher levels of nonconscious processing and poor inhibitory control and that these factors produce greater frequencies of spontaneous intrusive thoughts.
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Divergent thinking is central to the study of individual differences in creativity, but the traditional scoring systems (assigning points for infrequent responses and summing the points) face well-known problems. After critically reviewing past scoring methods, this article describes a new approach to assessing divergent thinking and appraises its reliability and validity. In our new Top 2 scoring method, participants complete a divergent thinking task and then circle the 2 responses that they think are their most creative responses. Raters then evaluate the responses on a 5-point scale. Regarding reliability, a generalizability analysis showed that subjective ratings of unusual-uses tasks and instances tasks yield dependable scores with only 2 or 3 raters. Regarding validity, a latent-variable study (n=226) predicted divergent thinking from the Big Five factors and their higher-order traits (Plasticity and Stability). Over half of the variance in divergent thinking could be explained by dimensions of personality. The article presents instructions for measuring divergent thinking with the new method. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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This study used event-related potentials to explore whether mind wandering (task-unrelated thought, or TUT) emerges through general problems in distraction, deficits of task-relevant processing (the executive-function view), or a general reduction in attention to external events regardless of their relevance (the decoupling hypothesis). Twenty-five participants performed a visual oddball task, in which they were required to differentiate between a rare target stimulus (to measure task-relevant processes), a rare novel stimulus (to measure distractor processing), and a frequent nontarget stimulus. TUT was measured immediately following task performance using a validated retrospective measure. High levels of TUT were associated with a reduction in cortical processing of task-relevant events and distractor stimuli. These data contradict the suggestion that mind wandering is associated with distraction problems or specific deficits in task-relevant processes. Instead, the data are consistent with the decoupling hypothesis: that TUT dampens the processing of sensory information irrespective of that information's task relevance.
Numerous anecdotal accounts exist of an incubation period promoting creativity and problem solving. This article examines whether incubation is an empirically verifiable phenomenon and the possible role therein of nonconscious processing. An Idea Generation Test was employed to examine (a) whether an incubation effect occurred and (b) the impact of different types of break on this effect. In the Idea Generation Test, two groups of participants were given a distracting break, during which they completed either a similar or an unrelated task, and a third group worked continuously (N = 90). The Idea Generation Test was validated against established measures of cognitive ability and personality, and was found to exhibit variance distinct from those marker tests. Most important, results demonstrated that having a break during which one works on a completely different task is more beneficial for idea production than working on a similar task or generating ideas continuously. The advantage afforded by a break cannot be accounted for in terms of relief from functional fixedness or general fatigue, and, although it may be explicable by relief from task-specific fatigue, explanations of an incubation effect in terms of nonconscious processing should be (re)considered.
Previous research has suggested that adults with ADHD perform better on some measures of creativity than non-ADHD adults (White & Shah, 2006). The present study replicated previous findings using a standardized measure of creativity (the Abbreviated Torrance Test for Adults, Goff & Torrance, 2002) and extended previous research by investigating real-world creative achievement among adults with ADHD. Results indicated that adults with ADHD showed higher levels of original creative thinking on the verbal task of the ATTA and higher levels of real-world creative achievement, compared to adults without ADHD. In addition, comparison of creative styles using the FourSight Thinking Profile (Puccio, 2002) found that preference for idea generation was higher among ADHD participants, whereas preference for problem clarification and idea development was greater among non-ADHD participants. These findings have implications for real-world application of the creative styles of adults with and without ADHD.
This study applies a theoretical approach to understanding creativity of ADHD individuals in terms of inhibitory control and its relative import in two aspects of creativity: divergent and convergent thinking. We compared adults with and without ADHD on the Unusual Uses Task (divergent thinking) and the Remote Associates Test (convergent thinking), and a measure of executive inhibitory control, semantic inhibition of return. ADHD individuals outperformed non-ADHD individuals on the Unusual Uses Task, but performed worse than non-ADHD on the Remote Associates Test and the semantic IOR task. The relationship between ADHD and creative ability was mediated, in part, by differences in inhibition.
Given that as much as half of human thought arises in a stimulus independent fashion, it would seem unlikely that such thoughts would play no functional role in our lives. However, evidence linking the mind-wandering state to performance decrement has led to the notion that mind-wandering primarily represents a form of cognitive failure. Based on previous work showing a prospective bias to mind-wandering, the current study explores the hypothesis that one potential function of spontaneous thought is to plan and anticipate personally relevant future goals, a process referred to as autobiographical planning. The results confirm that the content of mind-wandering is predominantly future-focused, demonstrate that individuals with high working memory capacity are more likely to engage in prospective mind-wandering, and show that prospective mind-wandering frequently involves autobiographical planning. Together this evidence suggests that mind-wandering can enable prospective cognitive operations that are likely to be useful to the individual as they navigate through their daily lives.