•  264
    The Neuroscience of Spontaneous Thought: An Evolving, Interdisciplinary Field
    with Andrews-Hanna Jessica, Fox Kieran, Spreng Nathan R., and Christoff Kalina
    In Fox Kieran & Christoff Kieran (eds.), Oxford Handbook of Spontaneous Thought and Creativity, Oxford University Press. forthcoming.
    An often-overlooked characteristic of the human mind is its propensity to wander.  Despite growing interest in the science of mind-wandering, most studies operationalize mind-wandering by its task-unrelated contents.  But these contents may be orthogonal to the processes that determine how thoughts unfold over time, remaining stable or wandering from one topic to another. In this chapter, we emphasize the importance of incorporating such processes into current definitions of mind-wandering, and …Read more
  •  220
    The Philosophy of Mind Wandering
    In Fox Kieran & Christoff Kalina (eds.), Oxford Handbook of Spontaneous Thought and Creativity, Oxford University Press. forthcoming.
    Our paper serves as an introduction to a budding field: the philosophy of mind-wandering. We begin with a philosophical critique of the standard psychological definitions of mind-wandering as task-unrelated or stimulus-independent. Although these definitions have helped bring mind-wandering research onto centre stage in psychology and cognitive neuroscience, they have substantial limitations that researchers must overcome to move forward. Specifically, the standard definitions do not account for…Read more
  •  202
    This report highlights and explores five questions that arose from the workshop on mind and attention in Indian philosophy at Harvard University, September 21st to 22nd, 2013: 1. How does the understanding of attention in Indian philosophy bear on contemporary western debates? 2. How can we train our attention, and what are the benefits of doing so? 3. Can meditation give us moral knowledge? 4. What can Indian philosophy tell us about how we perceive the world? 5. Are there cross-cultural philos…Read more
  •  196
    Perhaps the central question in action theory is this: what ingredient of bodily action is missing in mere behaviour? But what is an analogous question for mental action? I ask the following: what ingredient of active, goal-directed, thought is missing in mind-wandering? I answer that guidance is the missing ingredient that separates mind-wandering and directed thinking. I define mind-wandering as unguided attention. Roughly speaking, attention is guided when you would feel pulled back, were you…Read more
  •  193
    Mind-Wandering: A Philosophical Guide
    with Aaron Glasser
    Philosophical Compass. forthcoming.
    Philosophers have long been fascinated by the stream of consciousness––thoughts, images, and bits of inner speech that dance across the inner stage. Yet for centuries, such “mind-wandering” was deemed private and thus resistant to empirical investigation. Recent developments in psychology and neuroscience have reinvigorated scientific interest in the stream of thought, leading some researchers to dub this “the era of the wandering mind”. Despite this flurry of progress, scientists have stressed …Read more
  •  114
    Aha! Trick Questions, Independence, and the Epistemology of Disagreement
    with Michael Arsenault
    Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 1 (3): 185-194. 2012.
    We present a family of counter-examples to David Christensen's Independence Criterion, which is central to the epistemology of disagreement. Roughly, independence requires that, when you assess whether to revise your credence in P upon discovering that someone disagrees with you, you shouldn't rely on the reasoning that lead you to your initial credence in P. To do so would beg the question against your interlocutor. Our counter-examples involve questions where, in the course of your reasoning, …Read more
  •  86
    Although mind-wandering occupies up to half of our waking thoughts, it is seldom discussed in philosophy. My paper brings these neglected thoughts into focus. I propose that mind-wandering is unguided attention. Guidance in my sense concerns how attention is monitored and regulated as it unfolds over time. Roughly speaking, someone’s attention is guided if she would feel pulled back, were she distracted from her current focus. Because our wandering thoughts drift unchecked from topic to topic, t…Read more
  •  78
    Although mind-wandering research is rapidly progressing, stark disagreements are emerging about what the term “mind-wandering” means. Four prominent views define mind-wandering as 1) task-unrelated thought, 2) stimulus-independent thought, 3) unintentional thought, or 4) dynamically unguided thought. Although theorists claim to capture the ordinary understanding of mind-wandering, no systematic studies have assessed these claims. Two large factorial studies present participants (n=545) with vign…Read more
  •  69
    Mind-wandering as spontaneous thought: a dynamic framework
    with Christoff Kalina, Fox Kieran, Spreng Nathan, and Andrews-Hanna Jessica
    Nature Reviews Neuroscience 17. 2016.
    Most research on mind-wandering has characterized it as a mental state with contents that are task unrelated or stimulus independent. However, the dynamics of mind-wandering—how mental states change over time—have remained largely neglected. Here, we introduce a dynamic framework for understanding mind-wandering and its relationship to the recruitment of large-scale brain networks. We propose that mind-wandering is best understood as a member of a family of spontaneous-thought phenomena that als…Read more
  •  25
    Mind-Wandering as a Scientific Concept: Cutting through the Definitional Haze
    with Kalina Christoff, Caitlin Mills, Jessica R. Andrews-Hanna, Evan Thompson, Kieran C. R. Fox, and Julia W. Y. Kam
    Trends in Cognitive Sciences 22 (11): 957-959. 2018.
  •  20
    Is an off-task mind a freely-moving mind? Examining the relationship between different dimensions of thought
    with Caitlin Mills, Quentin Raffaelli, Dylan Stan, and Kalina Christoff
    Consciousness and Cognition 58 20-33. 2018.
  •  18
    Can we be responsible for our attention? Can attention be epistemically good or bad? Siegel tackles these under‐explored questions in “Selection Effects”, a pathbreaking chapter of The Rationality of Perception. In this chapter, Siegel develops one of the first philosophical accounts of attention norms. Her account is inferential: patterns of attention are often controlled by inferences and therefore subject to rational epistemic norms that govern any other form of inference. Although Siegel’s a…Read more
  •  14
    Mind‐wandering: A philosophical guide
    with Aaron Glasser
    Philosophy Compass 15 (1). 2020.
    Philosophy Compass, EarlyView.