Description: Think of a time when you were doing something really boring (perhaps in a lecture or at a family gathering) and see if you can think about a time in one of those situations where your mind wandered and you lost track of what was going on around you, perhaps to the extent that your teacher/professor or relative asked you a question and unexpectedly brought you back to the there and then. While your mind was wandering what was going on? As well, when you were brought back to the there and then it was rather like you were woken up, right? So, what is the relationship between a wandering mind and a sleeping mind and how would you investigate these questions (now THAT is a hard question). After you have given it a bit of thought, have a read through the linked article that looks at what some Neuro-psychologists came up with in their investigation into these questions.
Source: The Link Between Wandering and Sleeping Minds, Annie Melchor, The Scientist.
Date: October 1, 2021
So, does it make sense, or does it surprise you that parts of your brain could go to sleep while others stay awake? Fascinating and perhaps a bit scary too, especially if one is bored while driving. As well, given that our minds seem to dec ide when to wander (and when to sleep) it is very difficult to study such individual processes. Finally, because our minds do this (doze off or wander) perhaps as dangerous as that can be, it may be that there are advantages in our being able to do that, say in boring task situations. A research challenge to be sure!
Questions for Discussion:
- Why might our minds wander?
- When might such wandering be a good thing? Be a bad thing?
- How might mind wander and sleep be related?
References (Read Further):
Andrillon, T., Burns, A., MacKay, T., Windt, J., & Tsuchiya, N. (2021). Predicting lapses of attention with sleep-like slow waves. bioRxiv, 2020-06. Link
Killingsworth, M. A., & Gilbert, D. T. (2010). A wandering mind is an unhappy mind. Science, 330(6006), 932-932. Link
Christoff, K., Irving, Z. C., Fox, K. C., Spreng, R. N., & Andrews-Hanna, J. R. (2016). Mind-wandering as spontaneous thought: a dynamic framework. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 17(11), 718-731. Link
Mooneyham, B. W., & Schooler, J. W. (2013). The costs and benefits of mind-wandering: a review. Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology/Revue canadienne de psychologie expérimentale, 67(1), 11. Link
Smallwood, J., & Schooler, J. W. (2015). The science of mind wandering: empirically navigating the stream of consciousness. Annual review of psychology, 66, 487-518. Link
Feng, S., D’Mello, S., & Graesser, A. C. (2013). Mind wandering while reading easy and difficult texts. Psychonomic bulletin & review, 20(3), 586-592. Link
Mrazek, M. D., Smallwood, J., & Schooler, J. W. (2012). Mindfulness and mind-wandering: finding convergence through opposing constructs. Emotion, 12(3), 442. Link