Essays on Science and SocietyEPPENDORF WINNER

When Attention Wanders

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Science  05 Oct 2012:
Vol. 338, Issue 6103, pp. 58-59
DOI: 10.1126/science.1229552

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Everyone, from a child in a classroom to a driver on the road, has had the experience of having their thoughts meander far from the task at hand. Our minds wander when we rest (13) and about half the time we are engaged in an activity (4). A goal of my postdoctoral work with John Maunsell at Harvard Medical School was to understand how these internal fluctuations affect behavior. This knowledge is useful for determining the neural basis of internal mental states.