Strong working memory curbs daydreaming

Research institution: University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Research title: For Whom the Mind Wanders, and When: An Experience-Sampling Study of Working Memory and Executive Control in Daily Life

Researchers: Michael J. Kane, Leslie H. Brown, Jennifer C. McVay, Paul J. Silvia, Inez Myin-Germeys, Thomas R. Kwapil

Training program used in research: None.

Published: Psychological Science, 2008. Volume 18, Number 7.

Abstract An experience-sampling study of 124 under-graduates, pretested on complex memory-span tasks, ex-amined the relation between working memory capacity (WMC) and the experience of mind wandering in daily life. Over 7 days, personal digital assistants signaled subjects eight times daily to report immediately whether their thoughts had wandered from their current activity, and to describe their psychological and physical context. WMaC moderated the relation between mind wandering and activities’ cognitive demand. During challenging activities requiring concentration and effort, higher-WMC subjects maintained on task thoughts better, and mind-wandered less, than did lower-WMC subjects. The results were there-fore consistent with theories of WMC emphasizing the role of executive attention and control processes in determining individual differences and their cognitive consequences.