Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Constructive aspects of mind wandering

I've generally been noting research that documents some negative aspects of mind wandering, for example "A wandering mind is an unhappy mind" and "Better memory with less default mode activity." The other side of the coin, how day dreaming can be constructive, is developed by Kaufman here and here(PDF). He and his coauthors point out that the rewards of mind wandering:
...include self- awareness, creative incubation, improvisation and evaluation, memory consolidation, autobiographical planning, goal driven thought, future planning, retrieval of deeply personal memories, reflective consideration of the meaning of events and experiences, simulating the perspective of another person, evaluating the implications of self and others’ emotional reactions, moral reasoning, and reflective compassion
Kaufman argues for an definition of intelligence moves beyond emphasis on cognitive control, deliberate planning, and decontextualized problem solving, and that includes: individual’s personal goals, and considers both controlled forms of cognition (e.g., working memory, attentional focus, etc.) and spontaneous forms of cognition (e.g., intuition, affect, insight, implicit learning, latent inhibition, and the spontaneous triggering of episodic memories and declarative knowledge) are important potential contributors to that personal adaptation.


  1. Anonymous1:59 AM

    Well, it is clear that the nature of the conscious contents while mind wandering makes a big different, in what to the judgement concerns. In the cases referred by Kaufman, mind wandering can be beneficial in some aspects, in other cases, it come be extremely destructive. Another important point, I believe, is to be aware, to some extent, that your mind is wandering.

  2. Anonymous11:41 AM

    and see...
    The silver lining of a mind in the clouds: interesting musings are associated with positive mood while mind-wandering