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Mind Wandering, Memory and Mood

Hickey, J; (2013) Mind Wandering, Memory and Mood. Doctoral thesis (D.Clin.Psy), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

Unplanned off-task thinking (mind wandering) is a common ephemeral experience which has recently received increased scientific and clinical attention. This thesis investigated continuity between unplanned thought and memory processes and sought to show that mind wandering may disrupt pleasurable experience in dysphoria. The literature review aimed to determine whether the constructs of involuntary autobiographical memory and retrospective mind wandering describe the same phenomenon. The memory literature suggested four predictions about the correlates of retrospective mind wandering. A review of 11 mind wandering studies found some support for the prediction that unplanned thoughts are less subject to executive control when they are retrospective. Predictions about the cueing, recall probability and content biases of retrospective mind wandering require further research. Contextualisation in the memory literature offers promise for better understanding the causes and content of mind wandering. The empirical paper tested the hypothesis that mind wandering is a causal mechanism of disrupted pleasure (anhedonia). An unselected sample of 49 participants underwent positive mood inductions with and without distraction, followed by a task training inhibitory control of negative material and repeated mood inductions. Negative distraction successfully increased mind wandering and reduced sadness repair from positive material but these attenuations were not altered by inhibitory control training. Longer training and more precise manipulations of mind wandering were suggested for future studies. The critical appraisal noted some of the challenges encountered in pursing the aims of the thesis, proposed some improvements to mind wandering measurement in light of recent theoretical developments and outlined how errors in affective forecasting for memories, encountered anecdotally during testing, might be studied empirically.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: D.Clin.Psy
Title: Mind Wandering, Memory and Mood
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Third party copyright material has been removed.
Keywords: Mindwandering, Mind wandering, Attention, Mood, Depression, Anhedonia, Involuntary memory, Autobiographical memory, Dysphoria.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Clinical, Edu and Hlth Psychology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1405811
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