Poster D133, Monday, March 27, 8:00 – 10:00 am, Pacific Concourse
Diurnal Rhythms in Freedom of Thought: An Experience Sampling Study
Caitlin Mills1, Dylan Stan1, Quentin Raffaelli1, Kalina Christoff1; 1University of British Columbia
Circadian rhythms can have a strong influence on our daily lives. Recent research suggests that there are time-of-day variations in neural activity in brain regions linked to the attentional orienting system (Marek et al., 2010). These findings may have implications for related phenomenon, such as mind wandering, which is less understood from the perspective of diurnal patterns. Mind wandering has been characterized as the dynamic “movement of thought” which includes how constrained versus unconstrained the mind is (Christoff et al., 2016). Thoughts that are more constrained are less likely to move freely, but it is unclear how this might fluctuate throughout the day. We conducted an experience sampling study to test whether there are diurnal patterns in free movement of thought. Our hypothesis was that participants would experience fluctuations in their freedom of thought throughout the course of a day. Participants answered probes on their cell phones throughout the day for five days. A total of 128 participants answered, on average, 67 probes yielding 8,610 probe responses in full. Indeed, the pattern of results suggests that participants experience marked fluctuations in freedom of throughout the day, beginning from the time they wake. Thoughts were increasingly less constrained within the first two hours of being awake. Participants then experienced a dip in their freedom of thought after having been awake for eight hours. These findings may eventually help us determine what time of day we can best pay attention versus when we should let our minds be free to wander.
Topic Area: THINKING: Other