Tracking the wandering mind: Memory, mouse movements and decision making styles

Mariana Dias Da Silva, Marie Postma

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

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Mind wandering involves internally focused attention, and is often conceptualized as the opposite of external attention that is oriented towards the task at hand. Individuals vary ac- cording to the amount they mind wander as well as with re- gards to the pattern of oscillations between mind wandering thoughts and externally directed, focused thought. Assuming that mind wandering is influenced by episodic contents, we ex- plore the proposition that mind wandering frequency is related to the manner in which individuals deal with the contents of episodic memory, as reflected by a maximizing decision mak- ing style. Based on previous studies measuring cognitive pro- cesses, we assume that mouse trajectories towards a particu- lar response on the screen are continuously updated by time- dependent and temporally-dynamic cognitive processes. As a behavioral methodology, mouse tracking provides potential cues to help predict mind wandering. In our experiment, a to- tal of 274 students completed a decision making questionnaire, episodic and associative memory tests (during which mouse movements were recorded) and a working memory task, dur- ing which mind wandering thoughts were assessed. We found certain mouse movement characteristics to be significantly pre- dictive of mind wandering. Also, a maximizing decision mak- ing style appeared to be related to a particular type of mind wandering, namely, task-related interference.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 41st Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society
EditorsAshok Goel, Colleen Seifert, Christian Freska
Place of PublicationMontreal, QB
Publication statusPublished - 2019
EventAnnual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society 2019: Creativity + Cognition + Computation - Palais des Congrès , Montreal, Canada
Duration: 24 Jul 201927 Jul 2019
Conference number: 41


ConferenceAnnual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society 2019
Abbreviated titleCogSci 2019
Internet address


  • Mind wandering
  • Mouse tracking
  • Decision Making
  • maximising


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