Poster E37, Monday, March 27, 2:30 – 4:30 pm, Pacific Concourse
Neurophysiological differences in deliberate and spontaneous mind-wandering
Adrien Martel1, Mahnaz Arvaneh2, Paul Dockree1, Ian Robertson1; 1Trinity Institute of Neuroscience, 2The University of Sheffield
Mind-wandering (MW) occupies up to 50% of our daily mental activity and recent findings suggest that MW is a heterogenous mental phenomena, occurring with or without awareness. The former being described as deliberate MW (dMW), associated with positive aspects of cognition such as creative incubation and planning, and the latter, spontaneous MW (sMW), correlated with depression and other mental health issues. The aim of the study was to determine whether dMW and sMW exhibit distinct neurophysiological correlates. Twenty-six subjects performed a breath counting (BC) task and the fixed SART while 64-channel electroencephalographic (EEG) data was recorded. MW was assessed in both tasks via 5-scale probe-caught (PC) or self-caught (SC) interruptions with the following options: Attention was, (1) on-task, (2) on thoughts pertaining to the task, (3) distracted by internal sensations or external distractions, (4) on reminiscing or planning thoughts (dMW), (5) daydreaming (sMW). Behavioral results revealed significant differences in RTCV for grouped trials leading up to different types of MW during the SART. ERP analysis for trials preceding MW reports identified two significantly discriminative clusters of electrodes with reduced P1 and P3 amplitudes for MW. Time-frequency analysis revealed increased α activity and stimulus evoked synchronization during trials preceding self-reported dMW when compared to sMW reports. Oscillatory neural response revealed a decrease in theta band phase-locking for PC mind-wandering and sMW pre-trials when compared to on-task and dMW pre-trials, respectively. Together, these findings suggest that perceptual processing is reduced during mind-wandering episodes in general and is actively inhibited during dMW.
Topic Area: EXECUTIVE PROCESSES: Monitoring & inhibitory control