More on mind wandering.
AU Smallwood, J
AF Smallwood, Jonathan
TI Distinguishing How From Why the Mind Wanders: A Process-Occurrence
Framework for Self-Generated Mental Activity
SO PSYCHOLOGICAL BULLETIN
AB 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 control the occurrence of the experience from those processes that
ensure the continuity of an internal train of thought once initiated.
This review demonstrates that a distinction between process and
occurrence (a) provides theoretical clarity that has been absent from
current discussions of self-generated mental activity, (b) affords
conceptual leverage on seemingly disparate results associating the state
with both domain-general processes and task error, and (c) draws
attention to important questions for understanding unconstrained thought
in contexts such as psychopathology and education. It is suggested that
identifying the moment that self-generated mental events begin is a
necessary next step in moving toward a testable account of why the mind
has evolved to neglect the present in favor of ruminations on the past
or imaginary musings of what may yet come to pass.