Jonathan Smallwood

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This article reviews the hypothesis that mind wandering can be integrated into executive models of attention. Evidence suggests that mind wandering shares many similarities with traditional notions of executive control. When mind wandering occurs, the executive components of attention appear to shift away from the primary task, leading to failures in task(More)
Although mind wandering occupies a large proportion of our waking life, its neural basis and relation to ongoing behavior remain controversial. We report an fMRI study that used experience sampling to provide an online measure of mind wandering during a concurrent task. Analyses focused on the interval of time immediately preceding experience sampling(More)
Though only a decade has elapsed since the default network (DN) was first defined as a large-scale brain system, recent years have brought great insight into the network's adaptive functions. A growing theme highlights the DN as playing a key role in internally directed or self-generated thought. Here, we synthesize recent findings from cognitive science,(More)
Three experiments investigated the relationship between subjective experience and attentional lapses during sustained attention. These experiments employed two measures of subjective experience (thought probes and questionnaires) to examine how differences in awareness correspond to variations in both task performance (reaction time and errors) and(More)
Although anecdotes that creative thoughts often arise when one is engaged in an unrelated train of thought date back thousands of years, empirical research has not yet investigated this potentially critical source of inspiration. We used an incubation paradigm to assess whether performance on validated creativity problems (the Unusual Uses Task, or UUT) can(More)
Conscious experience is fluid; it rarely remains on one topic for an extended period without deviation. Its dynamic nature is illustrated by the experience of mind wandering, in which attention switches from a current task to unrelated thoughts and feelings. Studies exploring the phenomenology of mind wandering highlight the importance of its content and(More)
Given that as much as half of human thought arises in a stimulus independent fashion, it would seem unlikely that such thoughts would play no functional role in our lives. However, evidence linking the mind-wandering state to performance decrement has led to the notion that mind-wandering primarily represents a form of cognitive failure. Based on previous(More)
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(More)
Cognition can unfold with little regard to the events taking place in the environment, and such self-generated mental activity poses a specific set of challenges for its scientific analysis in both cognitive science and neuroscience. One problem is that the spontaneous onset of self-generated mental activity makes it hard to distinguish the events that(More)
Converging evidence from neuroscience suggests that our attention to the outside world waxes and wanes over time. We examined whether these periods of "mind wandering" are associated with reduced cortical analysis of the external environment. Participants performed a sustained attention to response task in which they responded to frequent "nontargets"(More)