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Nat Rev Neurosci. 2016 Nov;17(11):718-731. doi: 10.1038/nrn.2016.113. Epub 2016 Sep 22.

Mind-wandering as spontaneous thought: a dynamic framework.

Author information

1
Department of Psychology, University of British Columbia, 2136 West Mall, Vancouver, British Columbia, V6T 1Z4, Canada.
2
Centre for Brain Health, University of British Columbia, 2211 Wesbrook Mall, Vancouver, British Columbia, V6T 2B5, Canada.
3
Departments of Philosophy and Psychology, University of California, Berkeley, California 94720, USA.
4
Laboratory of Brain and Cognition, Department of Human Development, Cornell University.
5
Human Neuroscience Institute, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853, USA.
6
Institute of Cognitive Science, University of Colorado Boulder, UCB 594, Boulder, Colorado 80309-0594, USA.

Abstract

Most research on mind-wandering has characterized it as a mental state with contents that are task unrelated or stimulus independent. However, the dynamics of mind-wandering - how mental states change over time - have remained largely neglected. Here, we introduce a dynamic framework for understanding mind-wandering and its relationship to the recruitment of large-scale brain networks. We propose that mind-wandering is best understood as a member of a family of spontaneous-thought phenomena that also includes creative thought and dreaming. This dynamic framework can shed new light on mental disorders that are marked by alterations in spontaneous thought, including depression, anxiety and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

PMID:
27654862
DOI:
10.1038/nrn.2016.113
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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