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JOURNAL ARTICLE

Conducting the train of thought: working memory capacity, goal neglect, and mind wandering in an executive-control task

Jennifer C McVay, Michael J Kane
Journal of Experimental Psychology. Learning, Memory, and Cognition 2009, 35 (1): 196-204
19210090
On the basis of the executive-attention theory of working memory capacity (WMC; e.g., M. J. Kane, A. R. A. Conway, D. Z. Hambrick, & R. W. Engle, 2007), the authors tested the relations among WMC, mind wandering, and goal neglect in a sustained attention to response task (SART; a go/no-go task). In 3 SART versions, making conceptual versus perceptual processing demands, subjects periodically indicated their thought content when probed following rare no-go targets. SART processing demands did not affect mind-wandering rates, but mind-wandering rates varied with WMC and predicted goal-neglect errors in the task; furthermore, mind-wandering rates partially mediated the WMC-SART relation, indicating that WMC-related differences in goal neglect were due, in part, to variation in the control of conscious thought.

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