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date: 27 July 2021

Abstract and Keywords

The tendency to disengage from the immediate environment and to wander off to another time and place is a unique characteristic of the human mind. While much research has focused on the neural origins of such mind-wandering experience, less understood is the mechanism by which the mind facilitates task-unrelated thoughts. This chapter presents electrophysiological evidence demonstrating a widespread attenuation of numerous cognitive responses to external events during mind-wandering, suggesting that this transient modulation of the depth of the cognitive investment in external events may be one potential mechanism in which the mind facilitates these task-unrelated thoughts. The chapter also highlights the utility of resting-state and intracranial EEG as valuable methodology in illuminating the neural mechanisms underlying these internally directed mental experiences.

Keywords: mind-wandering, electrophysiology, task-unrelated thought, disengagement, EEG, intracranial EEG

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