Home > Events > Cogsci Colloq: Kalina Christoff (Psychology, University of British Columbia)
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Cogsci Colloq: Kalina Christoff (Psychology, University of British Columbia)

Time: 
Thursday, April 28, 2016 - 3:30 PM to 5:00 PM
Location: 
Bioscience Research Building 1103

Title: Mind wandering as spontaneous thought: A dynamic framework

Abstract: Mind-wandering has recently come to occupy a central position in cognitive psychology and neuroscience. Most theories and research so far have examined it in terms task-unrelated or stimulus-independent mental contents that occur at particular moments of time. A defining feature of mind-wandering, however, are its dynamics: how thought moves over time. In this talk, I will introduce a dynamic framework for understanding mind-wandering and its neural basis. I propose that mind-wandering is best understood as a member of a larger family of spontaneous thought processes – a family that also includes creative thought and dreaming. I will distinguish between two types of constraints on thought – deliberate and automatic – that can reduce thought’s spontaneous movement. Within this framework, fluctuations between spontaneous, automatic, and deliberate modes of thinking correspond to changing interactions among large-scale brain networks. Finally, the framework situates spontaneous thought within a broader conceptual space that allows its comparison to goal-directed thought, as well as to clinical disorders that make thought excessively constrained – such as in rumination and anxiety, or excessively variable – such as in ADHD.