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Mind-wandering in everyday event comprehension: Memory, attention, and the brain

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - CPA-EST (Mind-wandering in everyday event comprehension: Memory, attention, and the brain)

Período documentado: 2019-09-01 hasta 2020-08-31

Mind-wandering is the occurrence of thoughts that are decoupled from immediate perceptual inputs and unrelated to the activity at hand, like for instance starting to think about leisure activities while reading a document. Mind-wandering episodes represent around 30 to 50% of our daily thinking time and have substantial negative effects on memory, reading, and other activities that require focused attention. At the same time, mind-wandering can enhance creativity and afford opportunities to plan and prepare for the future. However, most of what we currently know about mind-wandering comes from laboratory studies where the tasks from which the mind wanders are simple, boring, repetitive, and do not reflect the richness of daily life events. To overcome this barrier, we leveraged new advances in methods to study naturalistic event comprehension in the laboratory and daily life. We across three studies, we adopted a multi-method approach that involved experience sampling of mind-wandering episodes in daily life as well as the combination of validated event cognition tasks that involve the viewing of movies of naturalistic everyday activities with state-of-the-art techniques to measure the behavioral, physiological, and neural correlates of mind-wandering. Specifically, we used eye-tracking technology and functional magnetic resonance imaging to assess how the event structure of activities can modulate, neural and ocular correlates of mind-wandering, its frequency and content, as well as its impact on memory and comprehension. As expected, results showed that the features of mind-wandering were affected by the event structure of perceived naturalistic event. Together these studies provide the foundations for a detailed account of mind-wandering in naturalistic settings, laying the basis for future interventions aimed at helping individuals to capitalize on the benefits of mind-wandering in their daily life while minimizing the associated costs.
During the first reporting period, ranging from September 1st 2018 to August 31st 2019 and corresponding to the Outgoing Phase of the Action, David Stawarczyk worked in the Dynamic Cognition Lab of Prof. Jeffrey M. Zacks at Washington University in St. Louis (Mo, USA). During this period, he trained in the use of the movie stimuli in experimental psychology experiments and in the use eye-tracking equipment. He also learned to perform representational similarity analyses on functional magnetic resonance imaging data, a form of multivariate voxel analysis procedure that he will use to analyze the data of the functional magnetic resonance imaging study that he will perform during the Return Phase of the action at the University of Liège. In addition, he collected and started analyzing the data for an eye-tracking experiment (Study 1 of the DoA).

During this period, David Stawarczyk also wrote as first author a peer-reviewed theoretical article that was accepted for publication in Topics in Cognitive Science (https://doi.org/10.1111/tops.12450) and another peer-reviewed article reporting a behavioral experiment that is published in Scientific Reports (https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-50439-y). He also presented data in a poster at the Psychonomics Conference (November 15th 2018 in New-Orleans, La, USA).

During the second reporting period, ranging from September 1st 2019 to August 31st 2020 and corresponding to the Return Phase of the Action, David Stawarczyk worked at the University of Liège (Belgium) in the Psychology & Neuroscience of Cognition research unit with Dr. Arnaud D’argembeau. During this period, he continued his training on the processing of eye-tracking and functional neuroimaging data and use of eye-tracking equipment. In addition, he collected and stated analyzing data for an experience sampling study of mind-wandering occurrence in daily life (corresponding to Study 2 of the DoA) and for a functional magnetic neuroimaging experiment (Study 3 of the DoA).

During this second year of the project, David Stawarczyk also wrote as first author a peer-reviewed article on the relationship between mind-wandering and fluctuations in ocular parameters that was accepted for publication in Biological Psychology (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biopsycho.2020.107950) and another peer-reviewed article reporting a neuroimaging experiment that is in press in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (https://doi.org/10.1101/809806).
This project will provide the foundations for a detailed account of mind-wandering in naturalistic settings, laying the basis for future interventions aimed at helping individuals to capitalize on the benefits of mind-wandering in their daily life while minimizing the associated costs. The occurrence of mind-wandering has been related to various detrimental outcomes in daily life, such as driving accidents or poorer memory for information presented during lectures. Conversely, other studies have shown that mind-wandering is related to planning in relation to personal goal, more patience for future rewards, and increased creativity. In this context, determining whether and how mind-wandering during everyday activities is modulated by the structure of experienced events (i.e. event boundaries, how the constant flux of information gathered by the senses is segmented into distinct events) is critical to determine whether it is possible to maximize the positive effects of mind-wandering while reducing its negative impact on everyday activities. This might for instance be done by determining whether the times when mind-wandering is unharmful to performance can be predicted based on the event structure activities and then by training people to regulate their mind-wandering based on this information. Aims of this project is to determine the relationship between mind-wandering and the perception of event structure at the behavioral, physiological, and neural levels to determine whether such interventions might be possible.
Schematic illustration of the proposal