Modeling mind-wandering: a tool to better understand distraction

van Vugt, M., Taatgen, N., Sackur, J. & Bastian, M., 2015, Proceedings of the 13th International Conference on Cognitive Modeling.. Taatgen, N., van Vugt, M., Borst, J. & Mehlhorn, K. (eds.). Groningen: University of Groningen, p. 252 257 p.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionAcademicpeer-review

When we get distracted, we may engage in mind-wandering, or
task-unrelated thinking, which impairs performance on cognitive
tasks. Yet, we do not have cognitive models that make this
process explicit. On the basis of both recent experiments that
have started to investigate mind-wandering and introspective
knowledge from for example meditators, we built a process
model of distraction in the form of mind-wandering. We then
tested the model by predicting performance on tasks used in
mind-wandering studies. We showed that we could both predict
task performance as well as the participants’ responses to
questions about what they were thinking about. This improved
understanding of mind-wandering could be used in the future
to revise our models of when, how, and why distraction occurs.
For example, our model could be used to examine how the effect
of distraction on task performance depends on the type of
mind-wandering (e.g., rumination versus day-dreaming).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 13th International Conference on Cognitive Modeling.
EditorsNiels Taatgen, Marieke van Vugt, Jelmer Borst, Katja Mehlhorn
Place of PublicationGroningen
PublisherUniversity of Groningen
Number of pages257
ISBN (Print)978-90-367-7763-6
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • ACT-R, mind-wandering, distraction, meditation

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