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date: 03 April 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The capacity to engage in spontaneous self-generated thought is fundamental to the human experience, yet surprisingly little is known regarding the neurocognitive mechanisms that support this complex ability. Dementia syndromes offer a unique opportunity to study how the breakdown of large-scale functional brain networks impacts spontaneous cognition. Indeed, many of the characteristic cognitive changes in dementia reflect the breakdown of foundational processes essential for discrete aspects of self-generated thought. This chapter discusses how disease-specific alterations in memory-based/construction and mentalizing processes likely disrupt specific aspects of spontaneous, self-generated thought. In doing so, it provides a comprehensive overview of the neurocognitive architecture of spontaneous cognition, paying specific attention to how this sophisticated endeavor is compromised in dementia.

Keywords: spontaneous cognition, dementia, neurocognition, cognitive change, memory, self-generated thought

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