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Abstract

Mind wandering (i.e. engaging in cognitions unrelated to the current demands of the external environment) reflects the cyclic activity of two core processes: the capacity to disengage attention from perception (known as perceptual decoupling) and the ability to take explicit note of the current contents of consciousness (known as meta-awareness). Research on perceptual decoupling demonstrates that mental events that arise without any external precedent (known as stimulus independent thoughts) often interfere with the online processing of sensory information. Findings regarding meta-awareness reveal that the mind is only intermittently aware of engaging in mind wandering. These basic aspects of mind wandering are considered with respect to the activity of the default network, the role of executive processes, the contributions of meta-awareness and the functionality of mind wandering.

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... One influential hypothesis, the perceptual decoupling hypothesis 10,11 , assumes that off-thoughts are related to the decoupling of perception from external stimuli. The perceptual decoupling hypothesis concerns mainly the thought contents: if they are related to the presented stimulus or task, they are on-task and thus perceptually coupled 10,11 . ...
... One influential hypothesis, the perceptual decoupling hypothesis 10,11 , assumes that off-thoughts are related to the decoupling of perception from external stimuli. The perceptual decoupling hypothesis concerns mainly the thought contents: if they are related to the presented stimulus or task, they are on-task and thus perceptually coupled 10,11 . If, in contrast, the thought content is not related to the stimulus or task, it is off-task and thus decoupled from the perception of the stimulus or task 10,11 . ...
... The perceptual decoupling hypothesis concerns mainly the thought contents: if they are related to the presented stimulus or task, they are on-task and thus perceptually coupled 10,11 . If, in contrast, the thought content is not related to the stimulus or task, it is off-task and thus decoupled from the perception of the stimulus or task 10,11 . This leaves open whether, on the psychological level, on-and offthought contents are not only associated with different contents, i.e., on-and off-task, but also with different numbers of contents, i.e., single or multiple with the latter holding simultaneously (rather than sequentially) 12 in one's mind. ...
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Our thoughts are highly dynamic in their contents. At some points, our thoughts are related to external stimuli or tasks focusing on single content (on-single thoughts), While in other moments, they are drifting away with multiple simultaneous items as contents (off-multiple thoughts). Can such thought dynamics be tracked by corresponding neurodynamics? To address this question, here we track thought dynamics during post-stimulus periods by electroencephalogram (EEG) neurodynamics of alpha and theta peak frequency which, as based on the phase angle, must be distinguished from non-phase-based alpha and theta power. We show how, on the psychological level, on-off thoughts are highly predictive of single-multiple thought contents, respectively. Using EEG, on-single and off-multiple thoughts are mediated by opposite changes in the time courses of alpha (high in on-single but low in off-multiple thoughts) and theta (low in on-single but high in off-multiple thoughts) peak frequencies. In contrast, they cannot be distinguished by frequency power. Overall, these findings provide insight into how alpha and theta peak frequency with their phase-related processes track on- and off-thoughts dynamically. In short, neurodynamics track thought dynamics. Hua et al. use EEG to track alpha and theta peak frequency alongside thought dynamics in healthy human participants. In doing so, they provide insight into how neurodynamics track thought dynamics.
... On the other hand, mind-wandering contributes to creativity and innovation, as it enables the establishment of new connections between previous and potential experiences (Mooneyham and Schooler, 2013). Self-generated thoughts can be conceptualized as involving a conscious state of internal attention decoupled from current perception (i.e., not based on perceptual input) (Schooler et al., 2011). They are dynamic, and individual can intermittently monitor their content explicitly through meta-awareness (Smallwood and Schooler, 2015). ...
... Mind-wandering has been referred to as the "dynamic redistribution of attention resources, " in which individuals' attention drifts away from external tasks to ongoing internal thoughts (Smallwood and Andrews-Hanna, 2013;Smallwood and Schooler, 2015;Thomson et al., 2015;Smallwood et al., 2021). Individuals with better attention control tend to have enhanced meta-awareness and regulation of self-generated thoughts (Schooler et al., 2011). Flow leads to the efficient allocation of the limited attentional resources, resulting in effortless concentration, and improvement of task performance (Nakamura and Csikszentmihalyi, 2014;Harris et al., 2017). ...
... Moreover, physical activity as exercise breaks could induce less mind-wandering and enhance learning performance (Fenesi et al., 2018), suggesting that it facilitates the transformation of self-generated thoughts into goaldependent processing and behavior. As mentioned previously, the spontaneous internal thoughts are dynamic, and mindwandering is revealed as the adaptive attentional control to adjust the external environment (Schooler et al., 2011;Kam et al., 2013;Smallwood and Schooler, 2015). Our findings farther indicate that less mind-wandering might be related to have more attentional resources available to invest in the activity at hand and experience flow. ...
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Background Individuals with mind-wandering experience their attention decoupling from their main task at hand while others with flow experience fully engage in their task with the optimum experience. There seems to be a negative relationship between mind-wandering and flow. However, it remains unclear to what extent mind-wandering exerts an impact on flow. And it is also elusive whether physical activity and mindfulness, which are as important factors that affected individuals’ attentional control and psychological health, are beneficial in explaining the association between mind-wandering and flow. The current study investigated the relationship between mind-wandering and flow, and the potential mediation effects of physical activity and mindfulness in this association. Methods A cross-sectional exploratory study design, including multiple scales such as the Mind-Wandering Questionnaire (MWQ), the International Physical Activity Questionnaire Short Form (IPAQ), Mindfulness Attention and Awareness Scale (MAAS), and the Short Dispositional Flow Scale (S-DFS) was applied. Descriptive statistics and bivariate correlation coefficients were applied in the analysis of these data. A multiple mediation model was used to examine the relationships between mind-wandering, flow, physical activity, and mindfulness. Results Mind-wandering was inversely associated with physical activity, mindfulness and flow, respectively; and flow was positively related to physical activity and mindfulness, respectively. Moreover, multiple mediation results demonstrated that physical activity and mindfulness, respectively, mediated the relationship between mind-wandering and flow. Conclusion These findings are helpful to understand how our minds attend to the present moment, and the crucial roles of physical activity and mindfulness in the association between mind-wandering and flow. An implication of these is the possibility that the effective strategies aimed at enhancing both the levels of physical activity and mindfulness are needed to reduce the negative impact of mind-wandering on flow.
... Second, the executive failure hypothesis (McVay & Kane, 2010 proposes that mind wandering is a failure to maintain attention or executive control on a primary task, and that it may be unintentional, due in part to the presence and urgency of task-unrelated thoughts, but also because of the executive capacity of the individual (McVay & Kane, 2012). Third, the meta-awareness hypothesis suggests that mind wandering results from not being aware of the contents of consciousness (Schooler et al., 2011). Although individuals often live outside the moment in a mindless manner, they are capable of self-monitoring and being present in their current conscious experiences, enabling recognition of mind wandering (Smallwood & Schooler, 2006) and facilitating the mobilization of attentional resources to combat mind wandering (Schooler et al., 2011). ...
... Third, the meta-awareness hypothesis suggests that mind wandering results from not being aware of the contents of consciousness (Schooler et al., 2011). Although individuals often live outside the moment in a mindless manner, they are capable of self-monitoring and being present in their current conscious experiences, enabling recognition of mind wandering (Smallwood & Schooler, 2006) and facilitating the mobilization of attentional resources to combat mind wandering (Schooler et al., 2011). Importantly, although these perspectives are presented as alternative hypotheses and their theoretical origins differ, it is worth noting their conceptual overlap. ...
... The meta-awareness (MA; Schooler et al., 2011) approach to reduce mind wandering requires enhancing the awareness or assessment of current consciousness and the re-direction of attention on-task when necessary. This may be done through two self-regulatory skills: mindfulness and metacognitive monitoring. ...
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.
... In more later stages of mindfulness training, the practice is ultimately meant to become integrated with one's daily activities, such that mindful awareness and its associated qualities are brought to bear in all aspects of one's life, not only during formal training periods [100]. From the perspective of modern cognitive science, the practice of mindfulness is thought to enhance meta-awareness or meta-cognition, the ability to be consciously aware of one's current thought processes [101]. ...
... On the other hand, mindfulness can be added to CCT and utilized to help individuals outside of the training context. By becoming familiar with one's own thought processes and negative emotions, an individual may be able to experience the continued benefits of improved cognitive function (due to CCT) and decreased feelings of depression (due to improved ER ability from mindfulness) throughout their daily activities [60,101,102]. ...
Article
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Depression is often associated with co-occurring neurocognitive deficits in executive function (EF), processing speed (PS) and emotion regulation (ER), which impact treatment response. Cognitive training targeting these capacities results in improved cognitive function and mood, demonstrating the relationship between cognition and affect, and shedding light on novel targets for cognitive-focused interventions. Computerized cognitive training (CCT) is one such new intervention, with evidence suggesting it may be effective as an adjunct treatment for depression. Parallel research suggests that mindfulness training improves depression via enhanced ER and augmentation of self-referential processes. CCT and mindfulness training both act on anti-correlated neural networks involved in EF and ER that are often dysregulated in depression—the cognitive control network (CCN) and default-mode network (DMN). After practicing CCT or mindfulness, downregulation of DMN activity and upregulation of CCN activity have been observed, associated with improvements in depression and cognition. As CCT is posited to improve depression via enhanced cognitive function and mindfulness via enhanced ER ability, the combination of both forms of training into mindfulness-enhanced CCT (MCCT) may act to improve depression more rapidly. MCCT is a biologically plausible adjunct intervention and theoretical model with the potential to further elucidate and target the causal mechanisms implicated in depressive symptomatology. As the combination of CCT and mindfulness has not yet been fully explored, this is an intriguing new frontier. The aims of this integrative review article are four-fold: (1) to briefly review the current evidence supporting the efficacy of CCT and mindfulness in improving depression; (2) to discuss the interrelated neural networks involved in depression, CCT and mindfulness; (3) to present a theoretical model demonstrating how MCCT may act to target these neural mechanisms; (4) to propose and discuss future directions for MCCT research for depression.
... The term "mind wandering" (MW) refers to the production of thoughts or images which are unrelated to our external surroundings and the task at hand, and therefore usually distract attention to some degree (e.g. Schooler et al., 2011). The person may be aware of having these thoughts or images (meta-awareness) or only becomes aware of them if prompted. ...
... The phenomenology of MW is complex and multifaceted. It can, for instance, consist of inner speech or imagery, be self-related or not, be oriented towards the past, present or future, have a positive, neutral, or negative valence, be intentional or unintentional, and be accompanied by meta-awareness or not (for reviews see Schooler et al., 2011;Smallwood and Schooler, 2015). All these characteristics are dependent on the individual, as well as on the situation and environmental context. ...
Article
While many clinical studies and overviews on the contribution of rumination to depression exist, relatively little information regarding the role of mind wandering (MW) in general is available. Therefore, it remains an open question whether patterns of MW are altered in depression and, if so, how these alterations are related to rumination. Here, we review and discuss studies investigating MW in cohorts, showing either a clinically significant depression or with clinically significant disorders accompanied by depressive symptoms. These studies yield first tentative insights into major issues. However, further investigations are required, specifically studies which: i) compare patients with a primary diagnosis of major depression with healthy and appropriately matched controls, ii) implement measures of both MW and rumination, iii) are based on experience sampling (in combination with other key approaches), iv) compare experience sampling during daily life, resting state and attentional tasks, v) explore possible biases in the assessment of MW, vi) acquire data not only related to the propensity and contents of MW, but also regarding meta-awareness and intentionality.
... Such metacognitive monitoring is a prerequisite for skillful regulation of mindwandering; it modulates the default mode of brain function describing activity in a network of brain areas during off-task activity (Raichle et al., 2001). Regulation of mind-wandering is associated with activation decreases in some of the key nodes of the default mode network, while activation in the ACC increases as a result of error monitoring (Schooler et al., 2011). Since self-regulation is often an interpersonal pursuit, it also engages the social brain regions, such as the temporoparietal junction (TPJ) involved in perspective-taking, understanding others' thoughts, emotions and behavior (Langner et al., 2018).An overlapping network of brain areas is also involved in moral reasoning and emotions, which are associated with virtue-aligned well-being (Eres et al., 2016). ...
... both as a response to what is presented to it deliberately and on its own accord, both in formal learning situations and outside them (Smallwood and Schooler, 2006;Schooler et al., 2011;Christoff et al., 2016). In the past two decades, studies demonstrate that this inner content substantially affects mental states, moods, performance, thought processes, behaviours and engagement with others, and is hence directly associated with flourishing (Bar, 2009;Killingsworth and Gilbert, 2010;Wammes et al., 2016). ...
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This is the first volume of the International Science and Evidence-Based Educational Assessment conducted by UNESCO's MGEIP. The first volume deals with education for flourishing.
... Mind wandering is thought to influence performance on laboratory tasks through the decoupling of attention from the external environment . That is, as attention turns inward, less attention is directed toward the external task, degrading stimulus processing and task performance (Baird et al., 2014;Schooler et al., 2011). For example, mind wandering during reading results in lower comprehension because attention is directed inward rather than toward the text-in effect, decoupling attention from the external environment (Smallwood, McSpadden, et al., 2008). ...
... For example, mind wandering during reading results in lower comprehension because attention is directed inward rather than toward the text-in effect, decoupling attention from the external environment (Smallwood, McSpadden, et al., 2008). This reduced sensitivity to external information in the environment during mind wandering is associated with concomitant reductions in physiological and neurological responses to that information (Franklin et al., 2013;Schooler et al., 2011;Smallwood, Beach, et al., 2008;Smallwood et al., 2011). ...
Article
Much of our day is spent mind-wandering—periods of inattention characterized by a lack of awareness of external stimuli and information. Whether we are paying attention or not, information surrounds us constantly—some true and some false. The proliferation of false information in news and social media highlights the critical need to understand the psychological mechanisms underlying our beliefs about what is true. People often rely on heuristics to judge the truth of information. For example, repeated information is more likely to be judged as true than new information (i.e., the illusory truth effect). However, despite the prevalence of mind wandering in our daily lives, current research on the contributing factors to the illusory truth effect have largely ignored periods of inattention as experimentally informative. Here, we aim to address this gap in our knowledge, investigating whether mind wandering during initial exposure to information has an effect on later belief in the truth of that information. That is, does the illusory truth effect occur even when people report not paying attention to the information at hand. Across three studies we demonstrate that even during periods of mind wandering, the repetition of information increases truth judgments. Further, our results suggest that the severity of mind wandering moderated truth ratings, such that greater levels of mind wandering decreased truth judgements for previously presented information.
... So, these results suggest that either air traffic controllers somehow prevent their minds from wandering when working, or that they might not be systematically aware of its occurrence when on the job (both hypotheses not being mutually exclusive). Even though the first hypothesis cannot be discarded and should be investigated, massive under-reports of mind wandering due to the participants being unaware of it are actually quite common (e.g., [22]), and meta-awareness of mind wandering (i.e., the explicit knowledge that one's mind is wandering) is only intermittent [19]. ...
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Safety studies have identified attention as a recurring cause of incidents and accidents in air traffic control. However, little is known of the precise attentional states that lead to degraded ATC performance. Therefore, we surveyed 150 French en route air traffic controllers on the causes of and impacts on perceived cooperation, safety, and performance of seven degraded attentional states from the literature: task-related and task-unrelated mind wandering, mental overload, inattentional deafness and blindness, attentional entropy, and perseveration. Our findings indicated that task-related and task-unrelated mind wandering were the most prevalent but had the least impact on perceived safety. Conversely, inattentional blindness and attentional entropy were less reported but were considered a significant safety concern, while inattentional deafness affected cooperation. Most states were experienced in workload levels consistent with the literature. However, no other factor such as shift work was identified as a cause of these states. Overall, these findings suggest that “attention” is not a specific enough subject for ATC, as attentional issues can occur in various conditions and have different impacts. As far as safety is concerned, inattentional blindness should be the prime target for further research. Neuroergonomics in particular could help develop dynamic countermeasures to mitigate its impact.
... This overlap can be quantified and amounts, across a variety of mentalizing tasks, to about 60 percent with a canonical resting-state definition of the DMN [136,172]. Other mental processes with similar neural activation profiles include episodic memory [142], episodic prospection [150], and mind-wandering [134], which share with mentalizing the aspect of counterfactual simulation, that is, imagining you were in the shoes of the other or remembering or daydreaming about something that is not currently present [162]. In line with this view on counterfactual simulation as a process that is decoupled from current stimulation, mentalizing related activity falls on the far end of a cortical gradient ranging from unimodal, sensory and motor related to abstract-processing related regions [97,136]. ...
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Social interactions are dynamic, context-dependent, and reciprocal events that influence prospective strategies and require constant practice and adaptation. This complexity of social interactions creates several research challenges. We propose a new framework encouraging future research to investigate not only individual differences in capacities relevant for social functioning and their underlying mechanisms, but also the flexibility to adapt or update one's social abilities. We suggest three key capacities relevant for social functioning: (1) social perception, (2) sharing emotions or empathizing, and (3) mentalizing. We elaborate on how adaptations in these capacities may be investigated on behavioral and neural levels. Research on these flexible adaptations of one's social behavior is needed to specify how humans actually "learn to be social". Learning to adapt implies plasticity of the relevant brain networks involved in the underlying social processes, indicating that social abilities are malleable for different contexts. To quantify such measures, researchers need to find ways to investigate learning through dynamic changes in adaptable social paradigms and examine several factors influencing social functioning within the three aforementioned social key capacities. This framework furthers insight concerning individual differences, provides a holistic approach to social functioning, and may improve interventions for ameliorating social abilities in patients.
... There is a bourgeoning literature on mind wandering and a review of this work is beyond the scope of the present paper. For additional information on current findings in this area, see Killingsworth & Gilbert, 2010;Forster & Lavie, 2009;Smallwood et al., 2007;Schooler et al., 2011. ...
Article
Prior research suggests that visual features of the classroom environment (e.g., charts and posters) are potential sources of distraction hindering children's ability to maintain attention to instructional activities and reducing learning gains in a laboratory classroom. However, prior research only examined short‐term exposure to elements of classroom décor, and it remains unknown whether children habituate to the visual environment with repeated exposure. In study 1, we explored experimentally the possibility that children may habituate to the visual environment if the visual displays are static. We measured kindergarten children's patterns of attention allocation in a decorated classroom environment over a 2‐week period and compared the percentage of time children spent off‐task to a baseline condition in which the classroom environment was streamlined (i.e., charts, posters, and manipulatives were removed). The findings indicate that with more prolonged exposure to a static visual environment, partial habitation effects were observed: Attention to the environment declined at the end of the exposure period compared to the beginning of the study; however, the environment remained a significant source of off‐task behavior even after 2 weeks of exposure. In study 2, we extend this work by conducting a longitudinal observation of six primary classrooms in which we measured children's patterns of attention allocation in real classrooms for 15 weeks to investigate whether increasing familiarity with the classroom décor would influence attention toward the visual environment. No evidence of habituation was observed in genuine classrooms in study 2. Potential implications for classroom design and future directions are discussed.
... In Dahl et al.'s (2015) framework, the attentional family comprises practices that cultivate the capacity to initiate, direct, and sustain meta-awareness, which is the primary psychological mechanism of this type of meditation. Metaawareness can be defined as a form of attention regulation that allows a heightened awareness of thinking, feeling, and perceiving Schooler et al., 2011). It involves monitoring the contents of experience without becoming unintentionally absorbed by them. ...
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Objectives Deepening our understanding of the mechanisms by which meditation practices impact well-being and human flourishing is essential for advancing the science of meditation. A recent phenomenologically grounded classification system distinguishes attentional, constructive, and deconstructive forms of meditation based on the psychological mechanisms these practices primarily target or necessitate. Our main aim was to understand whether this theory-based taxonomy could be used as a guiding principle for combining established psychological self-report measures of meditation-related mechanisms into psychometrically adequate composite scores. Methods We used cross-sectional data to compute meditation composite scores in three independent samples, namely meditation-naïve healthy older adults from the Age-Well trial (n = 135), meditation-naïve older adults with subjective cognitive decline from the SCD-Well trial (n = 147), and healthy long-term meditators (≥ 10,000 h of practice including one 3-year meditation retreat) from the Brain & Mindfulness project (n = 29). The psychometric properties of the composite scores were assessed via floor and ceiling effects, composite intercorrelations, interpretability, and convergent validity in relation to well-being, anxiety, and depression. Results Three theoretically derived meditation composite scores, reflecting mechanisms involved in attentional, constructive, and deconstructive practices, displayed adequate psychometric properties. Separate secondary confirmatory factor analyses empirically corroborated the theoretically predicted three-factor structure of this classification system. Conclusions Complementing data-driven approaches, this study offers preliminary support for using a theoretical model of meditation-related mechanisms to create empirically meaningful and psychometrically sound composite scores. We conclude by suggesting conceptual and methodological considerations for future research in this area.
... Indeed, as mentioned earlier, one major challenge in investigating the length of mind-wandering episodes is how to determine the "when" of mind wandering (Franklin et al., 2013). Although Voss et al., (2018) have provided evidence in favor of the process-occurrence framework by identifying different states and processes of mind wandering (see the "Process-occurrence framework" for more details), one key limitation of this study, as pointed out by the researchers themselves, was that their assessment methods hinged on the assumption that the only way for an individual to redirect their attention from mind wandering back to the task at hand is through a mechanism reliant upon self-awareness (i.e., the meta-awareness system; Schooler et al., 2011). If one can return to a task-focused state without relying on such a mechanism (e.g., decoupling from task-unrelated thoughts and coupling to the primary task's mental set without conscious awareness), and can have multiple switches between task-focused and mind-wandering states during a single selfcaught episode, then the estimated duration of focus and mind-wandering episodes (defined earlier in the "Processoccurrence framework") could in fact reflect multiple focusmind-wandering episodes, rather than the duration of each individual task-focused/mind-wandering state (Voss et al., 2018). ...
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Mind wandering is a universal phenomenon in which our attention shifts away from the task at hand toward task - unrelated thoughts. Despite it inherently involving a shift in mental set, little is known about the role of cognitive flexibility in mind wandering. In this article we consider the potential of cognitive flexibility as a mechanism for mediating and/or regulating the occurrence of mind wandering. Our review begins with a brief introduction to the prominent theories of mind wandering—the executive failure hypothesis, the decoupling hypothesis, the process - occurrence framework, and the resource - control account of sustained attention. Then, after discussing their respective merits and weaknesses, we put forward a new perspective of mind wandering focused on cognitive flexibility, which provides an account more in line with the data to date, including why older populations experience a reduction in mind wandering. After summarizing initial evidence prompting this new perspective, drawn from several mind - wandering and task - switching studies, we recommend avenues for future research aimed at further understanding the importance of cognitive flexibility in mind wandering.
... Cognitive flexibility, or mental set shifting (i.e., shifting between mental representations that are required for the chosen cognitive activity; Meiran, 2010), is one of the core executive functions that enables a person to coordinate thoughts and actions in response to changing demands or priorities (Buttelmann & Karbach, 2017;Diamond, 2013;Miyake et al., 2000). We suggest that mind wandering requires cognitive flexibility (Wong et al., 2022), as (a) it involves a shift from mental sets that are related to the task at hand toward task-unrelated mental sets (Smallwood & Schooler, 2006); and (b) recent research has demonstrated that switching between external task-focused states and self-generated states (i.e., perceptual decoupling; Schooler et al., 2011) may rely, at least in part, on cognitive flexibility and/or neural mechanisms associated with cognitive flexibility (e.g., dorsolateral prefrontal cortex; Turnbull et al., 2020;Turnbull, Wang, Murphy, et al., 2019;Turnbull, Wang, Schooler, et al., 2019). Accordingly, there should be an association between mind-wandering tendencies and cognitive flexibility, such that individuals who mind wander more frequently should show better mental set shifting abilities. ...
Article
Despite that previous studies have investigated mind wandering using task-switching paradigms, the association between the tendency to mind wander and cognitive flexibility remains largely unexplored. The present study investigated the relationship between self-reported spontaneous mind-wandering tendencies and task-switching performance in young adults. Seventy-nine university students performed a forced task-switching and a voluntary task-switching paradigm and then completed a battery of questionnaires. The results showed that compared to participants with lower spontaneous mind-wandering tendencies, participants with higher spontaneous mind-wandering tendencies demonstrated better performance (evidenced by smaller switch cost reaction times) in the forced task-switching paradigm despite indicating more mind wandering during task performance. Performance on the voluntary task-switching paradigm, on the other hand, did not differ between the two groups. The findings in the forced task-switching paradigm indicate a link between mind wandering and cognitive flexibility, thus providing initial evidence in favor of a role for switching in mind wandering.
... This skill helps employees not only maintain sustained attention, but also return from distractions caused by irrelevant stimuli (Bishop et al., 2004;Teasdale, 1999). In essence, it prevents their minds from wandering away from the present situation to potentially negative conceptualizing (Kudesia, 2019;Schooler et al., 2011). Supporting this notion, Fernandez-Duque et al. (2000) have stated that conscious regulation of and control for attention directly refers to metacognitive skills. ...
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While mindfulness has garnered increasing attention in organizations, few studies have operationalized workplace mindfulness and developed a valid measurement of this construct. Given this limitation, it is difficult to obtain a comprehensive understanding of workplace mindfulness or to promote theoretical and empirical research investigating this construct. To address this issue, the current research aims to examine the conceptualization of workplace mindfulness and seeks to develop a psychometrically sound scale assessing this construct. Based on the mindfulness literature, we propose a multidimensional model of workplace mindfulness consisting of three dimensions: awareness, attention, and acceptance. Across seven phases with six independent samples, and using both qualitative and quantitative approaches, our results provide support for the proposed multidimensional structure and reveal sound reliability and validity of the developed scale. This new instrument will be a valuable tool for both researchers and practitioners to assess employees’ mindfulness in working situations.
... Cette interférence peut s'expliquer par une défaillance des mécanismes d'inhibition de l'activité mentale spontanée, entraînant l'émergence de pensées Esprit vagabond et vieillissement non pertinentes pour la tâche et détournant ainsi l'attention de celle-ci [34]. Selon Smallwood, il se produit un « découplage perceptif » avec mise en compétition des ressources attentionnelles disponibles entre la tâche en cours et les pensées spontanées [35]. Néanmoins, l'impact du vagabondage de l'esprit dans la réalisation de tâches expérimentales ou plus largement lors des activités de la vie quotidienne ne semble pas aussi systématiquement négatif que généralement considéré. ...
Article
Mind wandering occupies an essential part of our awakened life and concerns all spontaneous thoughts unrelated to an ongoing activity. Laboratory research has studied this mental state during the execution of specific tasks measuring the conditions of emergence, the frequency and content of spontaneous thoughts and the consequences, usually harmful, on the performances tested. This mini review aims to define the phenomenon, expose the prejudices on performance and the assets of the wandering mind, and present the literature on the effects of cognitive aging on the incidence and characteristics of mind wandering. Various studies have shown a reduction in task-unrelated thoughts in the elderly, combined with an increase in task-related interfering thoughts. Some explanations are proposed, such as reducing cognitive resources or increasing motivation in the context of normal aging. The content of mind wandering seems crucial to understanding how this phenomenon evolves in aging. Hence, in future research, an assessment of the characteristics of the thoughts (emotion, temporality, association with stimuli, etc.) will deepen our knowledge of the link between mind wandering and aging.
... Moving to such a metacognitive level is actually often an automatic consequence of long practice in mindfulness training, and may easily happen during an intensive meditation retreat. 40 36 (Chin and Schooler, 2010;Schooler et al., 2011). As in earlier chapters, the words consciousness and awareness are here used synonymously. ...
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This book uses the modern theory of artificial intelligence (AI) to understand human suffering or mental pain. Both humans and sophisticated AI agents process information about the world in order to achieve goals and obtain rewards, which is why AI can be used as a model of the human brain and mind. This book intends to make the theory accessible to a relatively general audience, requiring only some relevant scientific background. The book starts with the assumption that suffering is mainly caused by frustration. Frustration means the failure of an agent (whether AI or human) to achieve a goal or a reward it wanted or expected. Frustration is inevitable because of the overwhelming complexity of the world, limited computational resources, and scarcity of good data. In particular, such limitations imply that an agent acting in the real world must cope with uncontrollability, unpredictability, and uncertainty, which all lead to frustration. Fundamental in such modelling is the idea of learning, or adaptation to the environment. While AI uses machine learning, humans and animals adapt by a combination of evolutionary mechanisms and ordinary learning. Even frustration is fundamentally an error signal that the system uses for learning. This book explores various aspects and limitations of learning algorithms and their implications regarding suffering. At the end of the book, the computational theory is used to derive various interventions or training methods that will reduce suffering in humans. The amount of frustration is expressed by a simple equation which indicates how it can be reduced. The ensuing interventions are very similar to those proposed by Buddhist and Stoic philosophy, and include mindfulness meditation. Therefore, this book can be interpreted as an exposition of a computational theory justifying why such philosophies and meditation reduce human suffering.
... Individuals with ADHD report elevated levels of mind-wandering (Franklin et al., 2014;Shaw and Giambra, 1993). They also show a difficulty in proactively preventing mind-wandering and/or mitigating its negative effects on task performance (Franklin et al., 2014;Schooler et al., 2011). Core DMN activity is associated with mind-wandering (Fox et al., 2015), being preferentially activated during task-unrelated, compared with task-related, thought (Stawarczyk et al., 2011). ...
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Background Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has been associated with reduced resting state connectivity in the core subsystem of the default mode network (DMN; medial prefrontal cortex – posterior cingulate cortex). However, the neuropsychological consequences of this hypoconnectivity remain to be determined. Building on recent theoretical models of DMN function, we tested the association between DMN hypo-connectivity and three neuropsychological processes previously implicated in ADHD: (i) excessive task-unrelated spontaneous thought (i.e., mind-wandering); (ii) sub-optimal decision-making due to exaggerated temporal discounting; and (iii) delay aversion – a heightened emotional response to the imposition or experience of delay. Methods Twenty male adolescents with a clinical diagnosis of ADHD and 18 typically developing adolescents (all aged 11–16 years) underwent a resting-state fMRI scan to assess DMN connectivity. An experimental paradigm was used to assess temporal discounting and self-report questionnaires were used to measure mind wandering and delay aversion. Results ADHD was significantly associated with DMN hypo-connectivity specifically in the core subsystem, elevated levels of mind-wandering, delay aversion, and temporal discounting. Mediation analysis suggested that DMN hypoconnectivity mediated the link between ADHD and delay aversion. Conclusion The results provide initial evidence that disturbances in the DMN may impair ability to regulate delay-related negative affect in adolescents with ADHD.
... On the one hand, MW has been associated with negative consequences in many different contexts such as driving (He et al., 2011), reading comprehension (Smallwood, Beach, et al., 2008), and sustained attention tasks (McVay & Kane, 2009). On the other hand, several theories highlighting its adaptive functions have been proposed, emphasizing its role in incubation Tan et al., 2015) or creative thinking (Leszczynski et al., 2017;Mooneyham & Schooler, 2013;Preiss et al., 2020;Preiss et al., 2016;Schooler et al., 2011). ...
Article
Although eye movements during reading have been studied extensively, their variation due to attentional fluctuations such as spontaneous distractions is not well understood. Here we used a naturalistic reading task combined with an attentional sampling method to examine the effects of mind wandering-and the subsequent metacognitive awareness of its occurrence-on eye movements and pupillary dynamics. Our goal was to better understand the attentional and metacognitive processes involved in the initiation and termination of mind wandering episodes. Our results show that changes in eye behavior are consistent with underlying independent cognitive mechanisms working in tandem to sustain the attentional resources required for focused reading. In addition to changes in blink frequency, blink duration, and the number of saccades, variations in eye movements during unaware distractions point to a loss of the perceptual asymmetry that is usually observed in attentive, left-to-right reading. Also, before self-detected distractions, we observed a specific increase in pupillary diameter, indicating the likely presence of an anticipatory autonomic process that could contribute to becoming aware of the current attentional state. These findings stress the need for further research tackling the temporal structure of attentional dynamics during tasks that have a significant real-world impact.
... The specific relationship between MW and attentional processes is not clear yet. Two partly opposing theories were proposed: The perceptual decoupling theory of MW suggests that attentional resources are redirected from the external environment to task-unrelated/internal processes [41][42][43]. According to this theory MW uses the same resources as attentional control and larger attentional resources may enable more mind wandering. ...
Article
Purpose Mind wandering, i.e. mental time-travelling and imagery unrelated to the current situation has recently been related to mesial temporal lobe (memory) function. In this regard we evaluated as to whether parameters of mind wandering are related to material specific memory in patients with a left-, right-, or extra- temporal lobe epilepsy. Methods In this prospective controlled study we analyzed mind wandering, material specific memory, and executive functions in 29 right-handed patients with right-, left-, or extra-temporal lobe epilepsies. Mind wandering was assessed with a sustained attention to response task containing embedded inquiries on mind wandering. In addition, verbal list learning and memory (VLMT), design list learning (DCS-R), and executive function (EpiTrack) were assessed. Results In patients with right temporal lobe epilepsy, the propensity to mind wander was positively related to verbal memory performance, while in left temporal lobe epilepsy, the propensity and future related mind wandering were positively correlated to the performance in visual/figural memory. Generally, the propensity of MW was related to executive function as well. Conclusion The results suggest that mind wandering in lateralized temporal lobe epilepsy appears to be non-specifically driven by executive function and specifically by the mode and functionality of the memory system of the non-epileptic hemisphere. Repeated assessments would be required to discern as to how much such patterns depend on lesions versus epileptic dysfunction and whether they change with successful medical or surgical treatment.
... In this regard, it is worth noting that attention is a crucial element of awareness, and it is reasonable to presume that some human species must have evolved a proper sense of self-recognition and, successively, a level of meta-cognition, namely the awareness of being aware (Dunne, Thompson, & Schooler, 2019). This second process deals with the ability to recognize the current contents of consciousness (Schooler et al., 2011). In 2003, Leary and Buttermore published a very detailed and comprehensive perspective review on the evolution of self-awareness in hominids, taking into account a large and well documented set of paleontological and archaeological information (Leary & Buttermore, 2003). ...
Article
Attention might be considered a key component of intelligence, and its cognitive and neurobiological mechanisms probably underwent profound changes in the course of human evolution. Attention can be conceived as a “limiting factor” for general intelligence (g), as the ability to maintain a selective coordination of specific cognitive processes through time regardless of conflicting stimuli. In this perspective review, we consider the paleontological and archaeological evidence that may supply information on the evolution of the attention system in the human genus. In terms of anatomy, the paleoneurological record suggests that the parietal cortex experienced a relative enlargement in Neandertals and, most prominently, in modern humans. These anatomical variations match cultural changes associated with technological and social complexity. Inferences in cognitive archaeology indicate that Homo sapiens is also specialized for working memory and visuospatial integration, when compared with extinct human taxa. These features are likely associated with changes in the attention system, and in cognitive processes dealing with meta-awareness, conscious control of mind wandering, resistance to distractors, and management of emotional clues. Although these inferences are inevitably speculative, they might stimulate a comprehensive interpretation of the technological and social behaviours associated with the evolution of the human genus, bridging together psychology and evolutionary anthropology.
... cost, such as reduced accuracy in the task that is not in the current focus of attention (Verschooren et al., 2019). One of the proposed mechanisms to protect ongoing internal processes from interference by sensory input is perceptual decoupling (PDec), which refers to the phenomenon that attention gets decoupled from the sensory environment during IDC Schooler et al., 2011;Smallwood & Schooler, 2006). PDec has been suggested to be responsible for eye behavior differences observed between EDC and IDC, i.e., eye behavior becoming more variable and less determined by sensory characteristics (Annerer-Walcher et al., 2018Smallwood et al., 2011), yet it is not clear how these effects depend on the characteristics of the internal task. ...
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Eye behavior differs between internally and externally directed cognition and thus is indicative of an internal versus external attention focus. Recent work implicated perceptual decoupling (i.e., eye behavior becoming less determined by the sensory environment) as one of the key mechanisms involved in these attention-related eye movement differences. However, it is not yet understood how perceptual decoupling depends on the characteristics of the internal task. Therefore, we systematically examined effects of varying internal task demands on smooth pursuit eye movements. Specifically, we evaluated effects of the internal workload (control vs. low vs. high) and of internal task (arithmetic vs. visuospatial). The results of multilevel modelling showed that effects of perceptual decoupling were stronger for higher workload, and more pronounced for the visuospatial modality. Effects also followed a characteristic time course relative to internal operations. The findings provide further support of the perceptual decoupling mechanism by showing that it is sensitive to the degree of interference between external and internal information.
... Smallwood and Schooler (2006) proposed that its emergence relies on the availability of current executive resources, arguing that task-unrelated thoughts will occur if a task leaves some executive resources unused. Engaging in these thoughts will lead to a decoupled state of attention in which the processing of internal information will compete with the processing of external information (a phenomenon known as "perceptual decoupling"; Schooler et al., 2011). This is in line with several studies showing that an increase in task difficulty or cognitive load diminishes the rate of mind wandering (Forster and Lavie, 2009;Krimsky et al., 2017;Rummel and Boywitt, 2014;Seli et al., 2018a;Smallwood et al., 2002), as fewer resources are available to trigger and maintain off-task thoughts. ...
Article
In the last two decades, mind wandering has received increased interest in the field of cognitive neuroscience. Despite the strong links between attention and memory, its effect on episodic memory encoding has only been recently investigated. To date, there is no systematic synthesis on this link. Following the PRISMA guidelines, a systematic review of the literature on mind wandering and episodic memory was conducted. Five online bibliographic databases (PsycNET, Pubmed, ScienceDirect, Web of Science and Taylor & Francis) were searched. Twenty-four studies were eligible for the current review and were compared based on their methodologies and results. Overall, stimulus-independent mind wandering appeared to be a reliable negative factor influencing the encoding of both words and audio-visual stimuli. However, a few studies pointed out a potential positive effect of stimulus-dependent mind wandering on episodic memory encoding. Theoretical explanations of these results, the limits of existing investigations and avenues for potential future research are discussed.
... Mind-wandering can be defined as the cognitive process by which we engage in thoughts unrelated to the current demands of the external environment (Schooler et al., 2011). Likely due to its fundamentally private nature, mind-wandering has traditionally been relatively understudied as compared to other psychological phenomena. ...
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Objectives: Mind-wandering is a form of internal distraction that may occur both deliberately and spontaneously. This study aimed to provide a psychometric evaluation of the Spanish version of the Mind-Wandering Deliberate and Spontaneous (MW-D/MW-S) scales, as well as to extend prior research investigating their associations with dispositional mindfulness (Five Facets Mindfulness Questionnaire) and with the ability for attentional control of external distraction (Attentional Control Scale). Methods: In two large samples (n1 = 795; n2 = 1084), we examined latent structure, item- and dimension-level descriptive statistics, and internal consistency reliability scores of the Spanish MW-D/MW-S scales. Partial correlations were used to evaluate their associations to dispositional mindfulness and attentional control. Multiple linear regression and relative weight analyses were used to investigate whether or not, and to what extent, the facets of mindfulness could be uniquely predicted by internal and external distraction. Results: The Spanish MW-D/MW-S scales demonstrated a two-factor structure, high internal consistency reliability scores, and good nomological validity. Dispositional mindfulness was independently explained by internal and external distraction. Across facets, MW-S was the largest (negative) predictor of mindfulness, being this association particularly strong for Acting with awareness. Conversely, MW-D was mildly associated to increased mindfulness. In addition, attentional control was found moderately negatively associated with MW-S and mildly positively associated with MW-D. Conclusions: Our results indicate that the Spanish version of the MW-D/MW-S scales are a useful tool to assess individual differences in deliberate and spontaneous mind-wandering, shed light on the relationship between mindfulness and both internal and external distraction, and accentuate the critical role of intentionality in the study of the mind-wandering phenomena.
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Objective: Mindfulness meditation might improve the ability of disengagement from mind-wandering (MW), that is, the ability to shift attention from MW. Disengagement from MW could mediate the relationship between mindfulness and reduced depression. However, no studies have confirmed this relationship because of limitations in measurement methodology. Since the mindfulness-based intervention, which instructs participants to be aware of the occurrence of, and their own engagement in, MW, might bias self-reports of MW, a measurement method that does not rely on participants’ verbal report is needed. Therefore, we propose a novel method to evaluate the ability of disengagement from MW, based on MW intensity estimation by machine-learning using electroencephalography. Method: Mind-wandering (MW) intensity was estimated using 1-s electroencephalogram samples and a machine-learning model developed in previous research. Thus, fluctuations in MW were observed during a 14-min meditation and the time required to shift attention from MW was defined as an index of MW disengagement. Two experiments were performed: The first targeted experienced meditators and the second assessed nonmeditators before and after participating in a mindfulness-based intervention. Results: The experiments revealed that disengagement from MW correlated with the extent of meditation experience. A correlation was also found between the magnitude of change in disengagement and severity of depression following the intervention. Conclusions: Though further verification of validity is required, this study suggested the possibility that disengagement from MW has a mediating function on reducing depression by mindfulness-based intervention, and that improved disengagement from MW is more essential for mindfulness than trait MW.
Article
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When the human mind wanders, it engages in episodes during which attention is focused on self-generated thoughts rather than on external task demands. Although the sustained attention to response task is commonly used to examine relationships between mind wandering and executive functions, limited executive resources are required for optimal task performance. In the current study, we aimed to investigate the relationship between mind wandering and executive functions more closely by employing a recently developed finger-tapping task to monitor fluctuations in attention and executive control through task performance and periodical experience sampling during concurrent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and pupillometry. Our results show that mind wandering was preceded by increases in finger-tapping variability, which was correlated with activity in dorsal and ventral attention networks. The entropy of random finger-tapping sequences was related to activity in frontoparietal regions associated with executive control, demonstrating the suitability of this paradigm for studying executive functioning. The neural correlates of behavioral performance, pupillary dynamics, and self-reported attentional state diverged, thus indicating a dissociation between direct and indirect markers of mind wandering. Together, the investigation of these relationships at both the behavioral and neural level provided novel insights into the identification of underlying mechanisms of mind wandering.
Article
Cognitive neuroscience has witnessed a surge of interest in investigating the neural correlates of the mind when it drifts away from an ongoing task and the external environment. To that end, functional neuroimaging research has consistently implicated the default mode network (DMN) and frontoparietal control network (FPCN) in mind-wandering. Yet, it remains unknown which subregions within these networks are necessary and how they facilitate mind-wandering. In this review, we synthesize evidence from lesion, transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), and intracranial electroencephalogram (iEEG) studies demonstrating the causal relevance of brain regions, and providing insights into the neuronal mechanism underlying mind-wandering. We propose that the integration of complementary approaches is the optimal strategy to establish a comprehensive understanding of the neural basis of mind-wandering.
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The relationships between the temporal focus of mind-wandering (i.e., past-oriented and future-oriented mind-wandering) and well-being are important issues for adolescents, which may have significant implications on their well-being and self-identity development. However, few studies tested the temporal focus of mind-wandering and its emotional consequences in adolescents. In the present study, we conducted two studies using self-reported questionnaires from large sample sets to examine the relationships between the temporal focus of mind-wandering and hedonic (pleasure attainment) and eudaimonic (meaning pursuing) well-being among Chinese adolescents. Study 1 preliminarily tested the relationships between the temporal focus of mind-wandering and hedonic well-being among adolescents ( n = 1273) suggesting that both past-oriented mind-wandering (PMW) and future-oriented mind-wandering (FMW) were positively correlated with hedonic well-being. Study 2 used a new sample ( n = 986) and included another aspect of well-being (i.e., eudaimonic well-being), showing that PMW and FMW were both positively correlated with hedonic and eudaimonic well-being. Moreover, self-reflection mediated the relationships between FMW and hedonic/eudaimonic well-being, whereas self-reflection did not act as a mediator in the relationships between PMW and well-being. The present findings indicated that both PMW and FMW are beneficial for Chinese adolescents’ well-being, and emphasized the mediating role of self-reflection in the relationships between FMW and well-being.
Article
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The neurophysiological bases of mind wandering (MW)—an experiential state wherein attention is disengaged from the external environment in favour of internal thoughts—and state meta‐awareness are poorly understood. In parallel, the relationship between introspection confidence in experiential state judgements and neural representations remains unclear. Here, we recorded EEG while participants completed a listening task within which they made experiential state judgements and rated their confidence. Alpha power was reliably greater during MW episodes, with unaware MW further associated with greater delta and theta power. Multivariate pattern classification analysis revealed that MW and meta‐awareness can be decoded from the distribution of power in these three frequency bands. Critically, we show that individual decoding accuracies positively correlate with introspection confidence. Our results reaffirm the role of alpha oscillations in MW, implicate lower frequencies in meta‐awareness, and are consistent with the proposal that introspection confidence indexes neurophysiological discriminability of representational states. The neurophysiological bases of mind wandering (MW) and state meta‐awareness are poorly understood. We recorded EEG while participants completed a listening task within which they made experiential state judgments and rated their confidence. Multivariate pattern classification analysis revealed that MW and meta‐awareness can be decoded from the distribution of power in delta, theta, and alpha frequency bands. Critically, we show that individual decoding accuracies positively correlate with introspection confidence. Our results reaffirm the role of alpha oscillations in MW, implicate lower frequencies in meta‐awareness, and are consistent with the proposal that introspection confidence indexes neurophysiological discriminability of representational states.
Article
Evidence suggests continuity between cognition in waking and sleeping states. However, one type of cognition that may differ is episodic thoughts of the past and future. The current study investigated this across waking, NREM sleep and REM sleep. We analyzed thought reports obtained from a large sample of individuals (N = 138) who underwent experience-sampling during wakefulness as well as serial awakenings in sleep. Our data suggest that while episodic thoughts are common during waking spontaneous thought, episodic thoughts of both the past and the future rarely occur in either N2 or REM sleep. Moreover, replicating previous findings, episodic thoughts during wakefulness exhibit a strong prospective bias and frequently involve autobiographical planning. Together, these results suggest that the occurrence of spontaneous episodic thoughts differs substantially across waking and dreaming sleep states. We suggest that this points to a difference in the way that human consciousness is typically experienced across the sleep-wake cycle.
Experiment Findings
Participants In similar studies conducted over the past decade, the appropriate sample size was represented by N = 100. For the current experiment, twenty participants were recruited. Participants’ age ranged from 26 to 37 (M = 30.93, SD = 4.67). Gender segregation: 12 females and 8 males. Participants were predominantly office workers, acquaintances who volunteered to spend 10min of their time while participating in the research. There was no financial incentive provided. Participants’ native language was predominantly Cantonese with fluency in the English language defined as business/nearly-native level. All participants were tech-savvy and experienced in using tablet PC in the past. Design The research employed the methods of two by two within-subjects design. Two independent variables with two levels were introduced: IV I - text presentation modality; level 1 – printed, level 2 – iPad IV II – personal smartphone presence; level 1 – present in mute mode, level 2 – out of sight in another room. Each participant underwent four counterbalanced conditions while reading four different texts. The conditions were: a text presented on paper – smartphone present, a text presented on paper – smartphone out of sight, a text presented on iPad – smartphone present, a text presented on iPad – smartphone out of sight. Upon completion of each text reading, participants had to complete a reading comprehension questionnaire, which consisted of seven questions based on a Right/Wrong/Doesn’t Say scale. One point is granted if the answer is correct. Maximum score – 7, minimum score – 0. Materials Each participant was instructed to have a personal smartphone on standby as it was a pre-requirement to enter the experiment. Four texts were selected from the UsingEnglish.com (2002) website which provides thematic texts of various difficulty levels to test reading comprehension in English. For the purpose of this study a Beginner level text of a similar environment/nature subject was chosen. Texts’ length varied from 160 to 200 words. The font of each text was Calibri, size 12, black (appendix 1). Reading comprehension questionnaire was presented on paper (appendix 2). iPad was used as the modality to facilitate the presentation of two texts to each participant. White A4 paper printed text copies were used as the modality to facilitate the presentation of two texts to each participant. Procedure Each participant had a one on one session with the research facilitator in a quiet room. Before entering the test room, a participant was asked to mute their personal cell phone and leave it outside. The briefing was conducted, the participation form presented and the consent form cross-endorsed prior to the start of a presentation. On a coin-toss it was decided whether a digital or printed text to be presented first to ensure randomization of the presentation modality - a corresponding text was then presented for reading. There was no time constrain on the text reading task. Once done with the reading, a participant notified the facilitator. The text was retrieved by the facilitator and a paper-printed questionnaire was presented to a participant. There was no time constrain on answering the questions. Under the second condition, an opposite modality of text presentation was offered for the participant to read (either digital or printed text – whichever was opposite to the condition tested earlier). Once done with the reading, a participant notified the facilitator and the procedure repeated itself. Upon completion of the first two reading tasks, the facilitator asked the participant to bring his/her smartphone to the room and to place it on the desk, screen up, mute mode on. The remaining two texts were presented, following the same procedural protocol described above. Thus, each participant was tested under four different conditions. Upon completion of all four tasks, debrief was provided, explaining the true nature of the experiment.
Article
Here we examined the association between mind wandering, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptomology, and self-control. In a large undergraduate sample (N = 5,387), we assessed trait-levels of spontaneous and deliberate mind wandering, self-control, and PTSD symptomology. Results indicated that, while PTSD symptomology was uniquely positively asso- ciated with spontaneous mind wandering, it was negatively associated with deliberate mind wandering and self-control. These findings suggest that the mechanism(s) underlying everyday mind wandering may also underlie PTSD symptomology and traumatic intrusions. Moreover, the unique negative association between PTSD symptomatology and self-control suggests that PTSD is characterized not only by impairments in inhibiting unwanted thoughts (as indexed by mind wandering), but also by impairments in inhibiting other unwanted behaviors.
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Two experiments examined the dual influence of mind wandering (MW) on the incubation of both deliberate and spontaneous modes of creativity. Specifically, using a modified version of Sustained Attention Response Task as the incubation task, this study assessed whether taking a break from a creative task and engaging in either an MW‐allowed task or an MW‐prevented task can exert differential effects on different aspects of creativity. Results showed that after engaging in an incubation task that allowed MW rather than prevented MW, participants generated ideas more flexibly but less persistently in the subsequent divergent thinking tasks, and were more likely to solve creative insight problems through intuitive insight but not systematic analysis. The results suggest that MW during incubation may simultaneously facilitate the spontaneous mode of creativity while suppressing the deliberate mode of creativity. These findings also indicate that creativity must be parsed into different subtypes in order to identify more specific ways to enhance creativity.
Article
Perception of our external environment is not isolated from the influence of our internal thoughts, and past evidence points to a possible common associative mechanism underlying both the perception of scenes and our internal thought. Here, we investigated the nature of the interaction between an associative mindset and scene perception, hypothesizing a functional advantage to an associative thought pattern in the perception of scenes. Experiments 1 and 2 showed that associative thinking facilitates scene perception, which evolved over the course of the experiments. In contrast to scene perception, Experiment 3 showed that associative thinking hinders the perception of mundane objects, in which associative information is minimized. Nevertheless, object perception was facilitated when associative thinking was reduced. This double dissociation suggests that an associative mind is more receptive of externally perceived associative information, and that a match between the orientation of internal and external processing may be key for perception.
Article
Objective: This study examined the associations between personality traits (i.e., neuroticism, extraversion, openness, agreeableness, and conscientiousness) and aberrant driving behaviors in a sample of Australian and Italian drivers by investigating the mediation effect of mind-wandering (MW) tendency. Background: Although unsafe driving behaviors are influenced by both a driver’s MW tendency and personality traits, the potential interaction between these variables and their association with aberrant driving behaviors has not been previously investigated. Method: Nine-hundred and four active drivers (n = 452 Australians, n = 452 Italians) completed an online survey related to their self-reported personality traits, driving behaviors, and MW tendency. Results: A multi-group path analysis showed that MW tendency significantly mediated the effects of neuroticism, extraversion, and conscientiousness on aberrant driving behavior with invariances across nationality groups. Conclusion: These results suggest that the association between personality traits and aberrant driving behaviors is partially explained by a driver’s MW tendency while driving. Further research is needed to understand these relationships using objective measures of MW while driving (e.g., the probe-caught method). The findings of this study suggest that the assessment of personality traits may have important implications for inattentive and distracted driving and fitness-to-drive evaluation purposes.
Article
The paper develops a critical reflection on the fabulative filmic collaboration with a participant suffering from heroin addiction and creates a line of flight from the dominant biomedical, sociocultural and psychological research. The artistic research articulates a cinema practice that seeks to address the issue of addictive behaviours in a way that has rarely been investigated, with a focus on the recovery process in the long-term. The paper asks how a creative practice with mind wandering as core component allows for recovery practices to challenge recurrent, preconceived and limited representation strategies that have been widely used for people recovering from addiction as medical patients, research participants and filmic figures. Exploring addiction in the context of artistic research unveils the potential of mind wandering in the recovery from addiction. The paper advocates for mind wandering to be a starting point to reconsider therapy concepts from the hypothesis that mind wandering is a helpful tool rather than a risk factor. The artistic research enables one to see the recovery from addiction as a becoming life force, in its affirmative as well as diminishing tendencies, and asks what addiction can do and how its recovery process can become a mode of existence in its own right.
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This study investigates the relationship between project employee mindfulness and project success using innovative work behaviour as a mediator and the project manager’s inclusive leadership style as a moderator. Project Manager with high inclusive behaviour will strengthen the relationship of employee’s mindfulness and innovative work behaviour. The data were collected in three-time intervals from a total of 347 information technology project employees. The study findings validated the proposed model wherein employee personality traits, such as mindfulness, have a key impact on the initiation of project employees’ innovative work behaviour. Information Technology projects require innovation due to rapid technical improvements. The study confirms that innovative work behaviour adds to the project’s success. Furthermore, inclusive leadership helps mindful employees become innovative. Thus, the leadership roles should also be emphasised in IT projects.
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In the waking state, in the absence of meta-awareness, mind wandering with specific contents can lead to negative mood. Such negative mood can be incorporated into dreaming according to the continuity hypothesis of dreaming. In this paper we argue that in the presence of what we call ‘sustained phenomenal meta-awareness’, negative mood would not follow mind wandering in waking. Sustained phenomenal meta-awareness has a non-sensory, non-affective phenomenal character. It is essentially intransitive, prereflectively self-aware, non-propositional, non-conceptual and devoid of subject-object structure. In other words, this unique kind of meta-awareness is non-representational. Evidence is then provided that such sustained phenomenal meta-awareness can be incorporated into the subsequent dream state as non-dual lucid dreaming in which, again, no negative mood would arise. Based on the latter observation, we have coined the term ‘mindful mind wandering’ and defined it as mind wandering in the presence of sustained phenomenal meta-awareness. We argue that not only does mindful mind wandering not lead to negative mood in waking, but also its incorporation into dreaming, as non-dual lucid dreaming, result in a state that is free of negative affection.
Article
Background: Research into the impact of dyslexia on everyday cognition in adults with dyslexia is relatively limited and has tended to focus on university students. Aims and methods: The present online study aimed to add to this small corpus by investigating the everyday effects of dyslexia on memory and attention in a larger community-based sample. One hundred and seventy-two adult volunteers completed five well-established self-report questionnaires, assessing dyslexia and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder symptomatology and everyday experiences with memory, attention, and mind-wandering. Results: After controlling for ADHD symptomatology, hierarchical regression analyses revealed that higher levels of dyslexia-related symptomatology were associated with greater, more frequent everyday memory and attentional problems, but not with a greater propensity to mind-wandering. Increased levels of dyslexia symptomatology were positively associated with the frequency of both everyday attentional lapses (at least when performing a pair of tasks or easy tasks while inhibiting intervening stimuli) and everyday memory failures. No significant associations were found between dyslexia symptomatology and attentional lapses when performing difficult tasks in the presence of concurrent stimuli or between dyslexia symptomatology and the propensity to mind-wandering. Conclusions and implications: Dyslexia symptomatology was perceived as being associated with more everyday memory and attention problems in adulthood. Adjustments to educational and workplace settings and interventions to compensate for these difficulties are proposed.
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Chronic pain is a leading cause of disability in the United States. Limited efficacy associated with pharmacologic management and surgical interventions in refractory patients has led to further exploration of cognitive and behavioral interventions as both an adjunctive and primary therapeutic modality. Mindfulness-based meditation has shown to be effective in reducing pain in randomized studies of chronic pain patients as well as models of experimentally induced pain in healthy participants. These studies have revealed specific neural mechanisms which may explain both short-term and sustained pain relief associated with mindfulness-based interventions.
Article
Mind wandering is a universal phenomenon in which a person’s attention decouples from stimuli within their current environment. Researchers have sought objective, less disruptive indicators of cognitive disengagement, resulting in a focus eye tracking and blink characteristics. Such research has found positive associations between mind wandering and blink characteristics, typically in reading tasks. However, extracting blinks accurately from continuous eye-tracking data is complex, and the literature contains inconsistently reported data processing methods, some of which may have an elevated risk of identifying noise as signal. Further, the relationship between attentional disengagement and blink durations has not been fully explored in multiple task modalities. We conducted three modality-specific experiments while recording eye movements. Blink durations varied as a function of stimulus/task engagingness; less engaging tasks yielded longer blink durations, suggesting a link between blinking and mind wandering. Recommendations are provided for researchers seeking to accurately derive blink events from continuous, binocular, eye-tracking data.
Article
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People spend approximately half of their waking hours in a so-called offline state — daydreaming, mind wandering or otherwise inattentive to their surroundings. These activities are often viewed as a waste of time, perhaps as moments of lost productivity. However, periods of offline waking rest can facilitate the consolidation of newly formed memories. Even a few minutes of rest with closed eyes can improve memory, perhaps to the same degree as a full night of sleep. These findings have profound implications for understanding the memory consolidation process, its time course and its underlying mechanisms. In this Review, I describe evidence that offline waking rest retroactively facilitates memory. Similar to the beneficial effect of sleep, the effect of rest might be driven by neural-level reactivation of newly formed memory traces. As both rest and sleep seem to support consolidation, I next consider whether these two states support the same or dissociable stages of consolidation. Then I review evidence that seconds-long bouts of offline rest occur throughout the day and that even these ultrashort offline periods might benefit memory. Finally, I conclude by describing future directions for research into the underlying processes of sleep and wake states. People spend approximately half of their waking hours inattentive to their surroundings. In this Review, Wamsley describes the beneficial effect that these periods of offline waking rest have on memory, contrasting this benefit and its underlying mechanisms with the effects of sleep.
Article
People readily imagine narratives in response to instrumental music. Although previous work has established that these narratives show broad intersubjectivity, it remains unclear whether these imagined stories are atemporal, or unfold systematically over the temporal extent of a musical excerpt. To investigate the dynamics of perceived musical narrative, we had participants first listen to 16 instrumental musical excerpts, which had previously been normed for factors of interest. While listening, participants continuously moved a slider to indicate their fluctuating perceptions of tension and relaxation. In a separate experimental session, participants reported the stories they imagined while listening to each excerpt, and then, while listening to the excerpts a final time, clicked a mouse to mark the time points at which they imagined new events in the ongoing imagined story. The time points of these event markings were not uniformly distributed throughout the excerpts, but were clustered at distinct moments, indicating that imagined narratives unfold in real time and entail general consensus about when listeners imagine events in the music. Moreover, the time points at which people tended to imagine events were correlated with the time points at which people tended to perceive salient changes in musical tension, as separately recorded within the first experimental session. The degree of alignment was greater for excerpts high in narrativity than those low in narrativity. Together, these results show that music can dynamically guide a listener's imagination and there is remarkable intersubjectivity in ‘when’ hear imagined story events in a piece of music.
Article
Our cognition can be directed to external stimuli or to internal information. While there are many different forms of internal cognition (mind-wandering, recall, imagery etc.), their essential feature is independence from the immediate sensory input, conceptually referred to as perceptual decoupling. Perceptual decoupling is thought to be reflected in brain activity transitioning from a stimulus-processing to internally-processing mode, but a direct investigation of this remains outstanding. Here we present a conceptual and analysis framework that quantifies the extent to which brain networks reflect stimulus processing. We tested this framework by presenting subjects with an audiovisual stimulus and instructing them to either attend to the stimulus (external task) or engage in mental imagery, recall or arithmetic (internal tasks) while measuring the evoked brain activity using functional MRI. We found that stimulus responses were generally attenuated for the internal tasks, though they increased in a subset of tasks and brain networks. However, using our new framework, we showed that brain networks became less reflective of stimulus processing, even in the subset of tasks and brain networks in which stimulus responses increased. These results quantitatively demonstrate that during internal cognition brain networks become decoupled from the external stimuli, opening the door for a fundamental and quantitative understanding of internal cognition.
Experiment Findings
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Two functionally distinct, and potentially competing, brain networks have been recently identified that can be broadly distinguished by their contrasting roles in attention to the external world versus internally directed mentation involving long-term memory. At the core of these two networks are the dorsal attention system and the hippocampal-cortical memory system, a component of the brain's default network. Here spontaneous blood-oxygenation-level-dependent (BOLD) signal correlations were used in three separate functional magnetic resonance imaging data sets (n = 105) to define a third system, the frontoparietal control system, which is spatially interposed between these two previously defined systems. The frontoparietal control system includes many regions identified as supporting cognitive control and decision-making processes including lateral prefrontal cortex, anterior cingulate cortex, and inferior parietal lobule. Detailed analysis of frontal and parietal cortex, including use of high-resolution data, revealed clear evidence for contiguous but distinct regions: in general, the regions associated with the frontoparietal control system are situated between components of the dorsal attention and hippocampal-cortical memory systems. The frontoparietal control system is therefore anatomically positioned to integrate information from these two opposing brain systems.
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Although mind wandering during reading is extremely common, researchers have only recently begun to study how it relates to reading behavior. In the present study, we used a word-by-word reading paradigm to investigate whether it could be possible to predict in real time whether a participant would report mind wandering when probed. By taking advantage of the finding that reaction times to individual words vary based on reports of mind wandering (with participants being less affected by length, number of syllables, and familiarity, and also showing an overall speed-up, during mindless reading), we were able to develop an algorithm that could successfully predict in real time whether a participant would report being on versus off task. In addition, for participants run without thought probes, there was a significant negative correlation between the number of predicted mind-wandering episodes and reading comprehension. Together, these findings offer a key advance toward the development of pedagogical tools for minimizing the negative impact of mindless reading, and they provide a new covert measure that could be used to study mind wandering without requiring participants to report on their mental states.
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This study examined the influence of acute alcohol on attentional lapses whilst performing a sustained attention task (SART). The sample consisted of 17 male and seven females. A dose of alcohol achieving 80mg/100ml was administered to subjects before completion of the task. Alcohol led participants to make more errors as the session progressed and report a greater incidence of mind wandering. Importantly, alcohol reduced individuals' ability to recover from a lapse in attention. Although the sample size is small, the study did enable us to gain insight into the detrimental effects of acute alcohol ingestion on mind wandering. The authors anticipate that through the use of thought probes in the context of the SART and a larger sample size, we hope to shed further light on this phenomenon.
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Two experiments tested the hypothesis that the threat of a negative stereotype increases the frequency of mind-wandering (i.e., task-unrelated thought), thereby leading to performance impairments. Study 1 demonstrated that participants anticipating a stereotype-laden test mind-wandered more during the Sustained Attention to Response Task. Study 2 assessed mind-wandering directly using thought sampling procedures during a demanding math test. Results revealed that individuals experiencing stereotype threat experienced more off-task thoughts, which accounted for their poorer test performance compared to a control condition. These studies highlight the important role that social forces can have on mind-wandering. More specifically, these results serve as evidence for task-unrelated thought as a novel mechanism for stereotype threat-induced performance impairments.
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Insufficient attention to tasks can result in slips of action as automatic, unintended action sequences are triggered inappropriately. Such slips arise in part from deficits in sustained attention, which are particularly likely to happen following frontal lobe and white matter damage in traumatic brain injury (TBI). We present a reliable laboratory paradigm that elicits such slips of action and demonstrates high correlations between the severity of brain damage and relative-reported everyday attention failures in a group of 34 TBI patients. We also demonstrate significant correlations between self-and informant-reported everyday attentional failures and performance on this paradigm in a group of 75 normal controls. The paradigm (the Sustained Attention to Response Task—SART) involves the withholding of key presses to rare (one in nine) targets. Performance on the SART correlates significantly with performance on tests of sustained attention, but not other types of attention, supporting the view that this is indeed a measure of sustained attention. We also show that errors (false presses) on the SART can be predicted by a significant shortening of reaction times in the immediately preceding responses, supporting the view that these errors are a result of `drift' of controlled processing into automatic responding consequent on impaired sustained attention to task. We also report a highly significant correlation of −0.58 between SART performance and Glasgow Coma Scale Scores in the TBI group.
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When the mind wanders to unrelated thoughts and feelings while reading, the eyes often continue to scan the words without due attention to their meaning. This mindless reading, similar to states such as daydreaming or absentminded lapses, is a state of decoupled processing in which attention to ongoing perceptual information is reduced often in favor of the active consideration of internally generated thoughts and feelings. Normal reading involves a complex interaction between bottom-up representations of the text that is being read and top-down representations of the more general context that help to keep the readers mind on what they are doing. Since states of decoupling involve a reduced processing of sensory information, the coupling between the reader and the text breaks down during mindless reading. This reduced external coupling is one reason why mind-wandering during reading has significant implications for reading comprehension. Following the presentation of a model of the decoupled state and a specific consideration of mind-wandering during reading, five key unresolved issues for future research in mindless reading are identified.
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The two core assumptions of the E-Z Reader model of eye-movement control during reading are that: (1) a preliminary stage of lexical access (i.e., the familiarity check) triggers the initiation of a saccadic program to move the eyes from one word to ...