Does mind wandering create a mental context change that facilitates memory retrieval?

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Rachel A. Booth (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Michael Kane

Abstract: This study tested whether task-unrelated thoughts (TUTs) can benefit memory retrieval by inducing mental context changes in the presence of output interference. Specifically, Study 1 examined the effects of an incubation period on recall in a long-duration verbal fluency task (recalling animal names). Study 2 replicated Study 1, but with longer task times. Both studies also assessed whether TUT rates during an incubation period predict post-incubation recall output, as would be expected if TUTs create mental context changes that reduce output interference between recall periods. Study 1 tested 204 participants, and Study 2 tested 211, and both presented a recalling-animals verbal fluency task and an incubation-period reading task with embedded thought probes to assess TUTs. In Study 1, participants recalled animals for 7 min pre-incubation and 2 min post-incubation, whereas in Study 2, participants recalled animal names for 9 minutes pre-incubation, and incubation-task duration increased from 11 to 12.5 min. Neither experiment showed the predicted incubation effects, nor a correlation between TUT rates and post-incubation fluency; only Study 2 showed a short-lived incubation effect in an exploratory analysis.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2022
Attention, Creativity, Impasse, Incubation, Mind-wandering, Retrieval
Recollection (Psychology)

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