Young and restless, old and focused: Age-differences in mind-wandering
Mind-wandering (sometimes referred to as task unrelated thought, or, colloquially, autopilot) is the experience of thoughts not remaining on a single topic for a long period of time, particularly when people are engaged in an attention-demanding task.
Mind-wandering tends to occur when one is driving. This is because driving under optimal conditions becomes an almost automatic activity that can require minimal use of the task positive network, the brain network that is active when one is engaged in an attention-demanding activity. In situations where vigilance is low, people do not remember what happened in the surrounding environment because they are preoccupied with their thoughts. This is known as the decoupling hypothesis. Studies using event-related potentials (ERPs) have quantified the extent that mind-wandering reduces the cortical processing of the external environment. When thoughts are unrelated to the task at hand, the brain processes both task-relevant and unrelated sensory information in a less detailed manner.
Mind-wandering appears to be a stable trait of people and a transient state. Studies have linked performance problems in the laboratory and in daily life. Mind-wandering has been associated with possible car accidents. Mind-wandering is also intimately linked to states of affect. Studies indicate that task-unrelated thoughts are common in people with low or depressed mood. Mind-wandering also occurs when a person is intoxicated via the consumption of alcohol.
Studies have demonstrated a prospective bias to spontaneous thought because individuals tend to engage in more future than past related thoughts during mind-wandering. The default mode network is thought to be involved in mind-wandering and internally directed thought, although recent work has challenged this assumption.
- Cite error: The named reference
McVay2.0was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
- Lin, Chin-Teng; Chuang, Chun-Hsiang; Kerick, Scott; Mullen, Tim; Jung, Tzyy-Ping; Ko, Li-Wei; Chen, Shi-An; King, Jung-Tai; McDowell, Kaleb (2016-02-17). "Mind-Wandering Tends to Occur under Low Perceptual Demands during Driving". Scientific Reports. 6 (1): 21353. doi:10.1038/srep21353. ISSN 2045-2322. PMC 4808905. PMID 26882993.
- Smallwood, J.; Obonsawin, M.C.; Heim, D. (June 2003). "Task Unrelated Thought: the role of distributed processing". Consciousness and Cognition. 12 (2): 169–189. doi:10.1016/s1053-8100(02)00003-x. PMID 12763003. S2CID 7646836.
- Smallwood, J.; Beech, E.M.; Schooler, J.W.; Handy, T.C. (March 2008). "Going AWOL in the brain – mind wandering reduces cortical analysis of the task environment". Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience. 20 (3): 458–469. doi:10.1162/jocn.2008.20037. PMID 18004943. S2CID 16925264.
- Kam, J.W.Y.; Dao, E.; Farley, J.; Fitzpatrick, K.; Smallwood, J.; Schooler, J.W.; Handy, T.C. (February 2011). "Slow fluctuations in attentional control of sensory cortex". Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience. 23 (2): 460–470. doi:10.1162/jocn.2010.21443. hdl:2429/27539. PMID 20146593. S2CID 7709940.
- Braboszcz, C.; Delorme, A. (2011). "Lost in thoughts: neural markers of low alertness during mind wandering". NeuroImage. 54 (4): 3040–7. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2010.10.008. PMID 20946963. S2CID 12903932.
- Smallwood, J.; Davies, J. B.; Heim, D.; Finnigan, F.; Sudberry, M.V.; O'Connor, R.C.; Obonsawain, M.C. (December 2004). "Subjective experience and the attentional lapse. Task engagement and disengagement during sustained attention". Consciousness and Cognition. 13 (4): 657–690. doi:10.1016/j.concog.2004.06.003. PMID 15522626. S2CID 2514220.
- McVay, J.C.; Kane, M.J.; Kwapil, T.R. (October 2009). "Tracking the train of thought from the laboratory into everyday life: an experience-sampling study of mind wandering across controlled and ecological contexts". Psychonomic Bulletin & Review. 16 (5): 857–63. doi:10.3758/PBR.16.5.857. PMC 2760023. PMID 19815789.
- Galéra, C; Orriols, L; M'Bailara, K; Laborey, M; Contrand, B; Ribéreau-Gayon, R; Masson, F; Bakiri, S; Gabaude, C; Fort, A; Maury, B; Lemercier, C; Cours, M; Bouvard, MP; Lagarde, E (13 December 2012). "Mind wandering and driving: responsibility case-control study". BMJ. 345: e8105. doi:10.1136/bmj.e8105. PMC 3521876. PMID 23241270.
- Smallwood, J.; Fitzgerald, A.; Miles, L.; Phillips, L. (April 2009). "Shifting moods, wandering minds: negative moods lead the mind to wander". Emotion. 9 (2): 271–276. doi:10.1037/a0014855. PMID 19348539.
- Smallwood, J.; O'Connor, R.C.; Sudberry, M.V.; Obonsawin, M.C. (2007). "Mind wandering & Dysphoria". Cognition & Emotion. 21 (4): 816–842. doi:10.1080/02699930600911531. S2CID 17662623.
- Finnigan, F.; Schulze, D.; Smallwood, J. (2007). "Alcohol and the wandering mind – a new direction in the study of attentional lapses". International Journal of Disability and Human Development. 6 (2): 189–199. doi:10.1515/ijdhd.2007.6.2.189. S2CID 25689644.
- Smallwood, J.; Nind, L.; O'Connor, R.C. (March 2009). "When is your head at? An exploration of the factors associated with the temporal focus of the wandering mind". Consciousness and Cognition. 18 (1): 118–125. doi:10.1016/j.concog.2008.11.004. PMID 19121953. S2CID 7498624.
- Buckner, Randy L.; Andrews-Hanna, Jessica R.; Schacter, Daniel L. (1 March 2008). "The Brain's Default Network". Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. 1124 (1): 1–38. CiteSeerX 10.1.1.689.6903. doi:10.1196/annals.1440.011. ISSN 1749-6632. PMID 18400922. S2CID 3167595.
- Sormaz, Mladen; Murphy, Charlotte; Wang, Hao-ting; Hymers, Mark; Karapanagiotidis, Theodoros; Poerio, Giulia; Margulies, Daniel S.; Jefferies, Elizabeth; Smallwood, Jonathan (2018-08-24). "Default mode network can support the level of detail in experience during active task states". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 115 (37): 9318–9323. doi:10.1073/pnas.1721259115. ISSN 0027-8424. PMC 6140531. PMID 30150393.