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Brain Res. 2013 Nov 20;1539:48-60. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2013.09.047. Epub 2013 Oct 3.

The nature of mind wandering during reading varies with the cognitive control demands of the reading strategy.

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Department of Psychology, Mississippi State University, USA. Electronic address:


Prior studies of mind wandering find the default network active during mind wandering, but these studies have yielded mixed results concerning the role of cognitive control brain regions during mind wandering. Mind wandering often interferes with reading comprehension, and prior neuroimaging studies of discourse comprehension and strategic reading comprehension have shown that there are at least two networks of brain regions that support strategic discourse comprehension: a domain-general control network and a network of regions supporting coherence-building comprehension processes. The present study was designed to further examine the neural correlates of mind wandering by examining mind wandering during strategic reading comprehension. Participants provided ratings of mind wandering frequency that were used to investigate interactions between the strategy being performed and brain regions whose activation was modulated by wind wandering. The results support prior findings showing that cognitive control regions are at times more active during mind wandering than during a task with low control demands, such as rereading. This result provides an initial examination of the neural correlates of mind wandering during discourse comprehension and shows that the processes being engaged by the primary task need to be considered when studying mind wandering. The results also replicate, in a different learning domain, prior findings of key brain areas associated with different reading strategies.


Cognitive control; Mind wandering; Reading strategies; fMRI

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