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PLoS One. 2011;6(9):e23124. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0023124. Epub 2011 Sep 7.

Dissociation of subjectively reported and behaviorally indexed mind wandering by EEG rhythmic activity.

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Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States of America.


Inattention to current activity is ubiquitous in everyday situations. Mind wandering is an example of such a state, and its related brain areas have been examined in the literature. However, there is no clear evidence regarding neural rhythmic activities linked to mind wandering. Using a vigilance task with thought sampling and electroencephalography recording, the current study simultaneously examined neural oscillatory activities related to subjectively reported and behaviorally indexed mind wandering. By implementing time-frequency analysis, we found that subjectively reported mind wandering, relative to behaviorally indexed, showed increased gamma band activity at bilateral frontal-central areas. By means of beamformer source imaging, we found subjectively reported mind wandering within the gamma band to be characterized by increased activation in bilateral frontal cortices, supplemental motor area, paracentral cortex and right inferior temporal cortex in comparison to behaviorally indexed mind wandering. These findings dissociate subjectively reported and behaviorally indexed mind wandering and suggest that a higher degree of executive control processes are engaged in subjectively reported mind wandering.

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