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Not all minds that wander are lost: A neurocognitive test of mind-wandering state’s contribution to human cognition.

Total Cost €


EC-Contrib. €






 WANDERINGMINDS project word cloud

Explore the words cloud of the WANDERINGMINDS project. It provides you a very rough idea of what is the project "WANDERINGMINDS" about.

prevent    creative    context    performance    leads    views    foothold    functional    journals    of    neural    mode    always    bulletin    regulated    core    arise    academic    longitudinally    assessing    theoretical    experiences    form    profile    world    dynamic    shown    mechanisms    almost    redefine    environment    laboratory    experience    debates    piecemeal    metrics    events    cognition    learning    action    beneficial    coherent    accounts    disrupt    sampling    psychological    goals    species    human    team    half    ongoing    science    vital    gained    explore    that    lives    contributes    framework    mind    waking    argued    me    wandering    categories    magnetic    correlates    merely    thought    overcoming    occupy    originality    assemble    lack    experiential    errors    regular    cognitive    fmri    underlie    imaging    controversies    interference    disjointed    mental    managed    thinking    unhappiness    persist    resonance    basis   

Project "WANDERINGMINDS" data sheet

The following table provides information about the project.


Organization address
postcode: YO10 5DD

contact info
title: n.a.
name: n.a.
surname: n.a.
function: n.a.
email: n.a.
telephone: n.a.
fax: n.a.

 Coordinator Country United Kingdom [UK]
 Total cost 1˙800˙000 €
 EC max contribution 1˙800˙000 € (100%)
 Programme 1. H2020-EU.1.1. (EXCELLENT SCIENCE - European Research Council (ERC))
 Code Call ERC-2014-CoG
 Funding Scheme ERC-COG
 Starting year 2015
 Duration (year-month-day) from 2015-12-01   to  2020-05-31


Take a look of project's partnership.

# participants  country  role  EC contrib. [€] 
1    UNIVERSITY OF YORK UK (YORK NORTH YORKSHIRE) coordinator 1˙800˙000.00


 Project objective

Experience does not always arise from the events in the immediate environment; research has shown that states such as mind-wandering occupy almost half of our waking thought. Although mind-wandering has gained a foothold in cognitive science, our understanding of this core form of cognition is piecemeal and disjointed, making it a regular topic of theoretical debates in high-profile journals (e.g. Science and Psychological Bulletin). I have argued that these controversies are due to the lack of a coherent framework in which to explore mind-wandering’s role in cognition. In particular, a key problem is overcoming simple views that propose that mind wandering is merely a state that leads to errors, or unhappiness; accounts that persist in the face of evidence that it contributes foresight and originality to human thought. This project will allow me to assemble a team of researchers and develop an account of how mind-wandering contributes to creative and novel thinking and how it can be regulated to prevent interference with ongoing action. We will explore the experiential categories of the state using novel experience-sampling methods I have developed and explore its neural basis using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI). Using these measures, we will: (i) identify the neural correlates of different categories of mind-wandering experiences, (ii) use these metrics to explore the mechanisms that underlie the creative properties of thinking during mind-wandering, (iii) identify how this creative mode of thought is managed so as not to disrupt important goals in the here and now (such as learning) and (iv) explore these processes in the context of both controlled laboratory studies and longitudinally in the real world by assessing their beneficial role in academic performance. This project will redefine our understanding of mind-wandering as a vital and dynamic element of the mental lives of every member of our species.


year authors and title journal last update
List of publications.
2017 Irene de Caso, Giulia Poerio, Elizabeth Jefferies, Jonathan Smallwood
That’s me in the spotlight: neural basis of individual differences in self-consciousness
published pages: , ISSN: 1749-5024, DOI: 10.1093/scan/nsx076
Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience 2019-05-31
2017 Theodoros Karapanagiotidis, Boris C. Bernhardt, Elizabeth Jefferies, Jonathan Smallwood
Tracking thoughts: Exploring the neural architecture of mental time travel during mind-wandering
published pages: 272-281, ISSN: 1053-8119, DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2016.12.031
NeuroImage 147 2019-05-31
2017 Johannes Golchert, Jonathan Smallwood, Elizabeth Jefferies, Paul Seli, Julia M. Huntenburg, Franziskus Liem, Mark E. Lauckner, Sabine Oligschläger, Boris C. Bernhardt, Arno Villringer, Daniel S. Margulies
Individual variation in intentionality in the mind-wandering state is reflected in the integration of the default-mode, fronto-parietal, and limbic networks
published pages: 226-235, ISSN: 1053-8119, DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2016.11.025
NeuroImage 146 2019-05-31
2016 James Davey, Hannah E. Thompson, Glyn Hallam, Theodoros Karapanagiotidis, Charlotte Murphy, Irene De Caso, Katya Krieger-Redwood, Boris C. Bernhardt, Jonathan Smallwood, Elizabeth Jefferies
Exploring the role of the posterior middle temporal gyrus in semantic cognition: Integration of anterior temporal lobe with executive processes
published pages: 165-177, ISSN: 1053-8119, DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2016.05.051
NeuroImage 137 2019-05-31
2016 Daniel S. Margulies, Satrajit S. Ghosh, Alexandros Goulas, Marcel Falkiewicz, Julia M. Huntenburg, Georg Langs, Gleb Bezgin, Simon B. Eickhoff, F. Xavier Castellanos, Michael Petrides, Elizabeth Jefferies, Jonathan Smallwood
Situating the default-mode network along a principal gradient of macroscale cortical organization
published pages: 12574-12579, ISSN: 0027-8424, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1608282113
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 113/44 2019-05-31
2017 Giulia L. Poerio, Mladen Sormaz, Hao-Ting Wang, Daniel Margulies, Elizabeth Jefferies, Jonathan Smallwood
The role of the default mode network in component processes underlying the wandering mind
published pages: 1047-1062, ISSN: 1749-5024, DOI: 10.1093/scan/nsx041
Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience 12/7 2019-05-31
2017 Deniz Vatansever, Danilo Bzdok, Hao-Ting Wang, Giovanna Mollo, Mladen Sormaz, Charlotte Murphy, Theodoros Karapanagiotidis, Jonathan Smallwood, Elizabeth Jefferies
Varieties of semantic cognition revealed through simultaneous decomposition of intrinsic brain connectivity and behaviour
published pages: 1-11, ISSN: 1053-8119, DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2017.06.067
NeuroImage 158 2019-05-31
2017 Mahiko Konishi, Kevin Brown, Luca Battaglini, Jonathan Smallwood
When attention wanders: Pupillometric signatures of fluctuations in external attention
published pages: 16-26, ISSN: 0010-0277, DOI: 10.1016/j.cognition.2017.06.006
Cognition 168 2019-05-31
2017 Johannes Golchert, Jonathan Smallwood, Elizabeth Jefferies, Franziskus Liem, Julia M. Huntenburg, Marcel Falkiewicz, Mark E. Lauckner, Sabine Oligschläger, Arno Villringer, Daniel S. Margulies
In need of constraint: Understanding the role of the cingulate cortex in the impulsive mind
published pages: 804-813, ISSN: 1053-8119, DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2016.10.041
NeuroImage 146 2019-05-31
2017 Jet G. Sanders, Hao-Ting Wang, Jonathan Schooler, Jonathan Smallwood
Can I get me out of my head? Exploring strategies for controlling the self-referential aspects of the mind-wandering state during reading
published pages: 1053-1062, ISSN: 1747-0218, DOI: 10.1080/17470218.2016.1216573
The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology 70/6 2019-05-31
2017 Irene de Caso, Theodoros Karapanagiotidis, Elena Aggius-Vella, Mahiko Konishi, Daniel S. Margulies, Elizabeth Jefferies, Jonathan Smallwood
Knowing me, knowing you: Resting-state functional connectivity of ventromedial prefrontal cortex dissociates memory related to self from a familiar other
published pages: 65-75, ISSN: 0278-2626, DOI: 10.1016/j.bandc.2017.01.004
Brain and Cognition 113 2019-05-31
2017 Mladen Sormaz, Elizabeth Jefferies, Boris C. Bernhardt, Theodoros Karapanagiotidis, Giovanna Mollo, Neda Bernasconi, Andrea Bernasconi, Tom Hartley, Jonathan Smallwood
Knowing what from where: Hippocampal connectivity with temporoparietal cortex at rest is linked to individual differences in semantic and topographic memory
published pages: 400-410, ISSN: 1053-8119, DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2017.02.071
NeuroImage 152 2019-05-31
2016 Katya Krieger-Redwood, Elizabeth Jefferies, Theodoros Karapanagiotidis, Robert Seymour, Adonany Nunes, Jit Wei Aaron Ang, Vierra Majernikova, Giovanna Mollo, Jonathan Smallwood
Down but not out in posterior cingulate cortex: Deactivation yet functional coupling with prefrontal cortex during demanding semantic cognition
published pages: 366-377, ISSN: 1053-8119, DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2016.07.060
NeuroImage 141 2019-05-31

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