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date: 21 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Although mind-wandering has received increased attention in the field of cognitive neuroscience, definitions have not always aligned. Most have emphasized the contents of thought, treating it as synonymous with either task-unrelated thought or stimulus-independent thought. Such definitions miss an important aspect of what it means to let one’s mind wander: the easeful way that thoughts move about. A more recent definition looks, instead, at the dynamics of thought—the way that thoughts unfold over time—positioning mind-wandering as a type of spontaneous thought. By doing so, it is therefore more readily equipped to incorporate this quality of ease. While the term mind-wandering can sometimes refer either to a momentary event or to an ongoing activity, both usages, this chapter argues, will be unsatisfactory if they do not address this gentle mode of movement. Some benefits that ease can provide for future research are proposed.

Keywords: mind-wandering, task-unrelated thought, stimulus-independent thought, spontaneous thought, dynamics of thought, ease

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