Despite the abundance of recent publications about mind wandering (i.e., off-task thought), its interconnection with metacognition and cognitive control has not yet been examined.
In the current study, we hypothesized that these three constructs would show clear interrelations. Metacognitive capacity was predicted to correlate positively with cognitive control ability, which in turn was predicted to be positively related to resistance to mind wandering during sustained attention. Moreover, it was expected that participants with good metacognitive capacity would be better at the subjective recognition of behaviorally present mind wandering. Three tasks were used: The Sustained Attention to Response Task (SART) to measure mind wandering, a perceptual decision task with confidence ratings to measure metacognitive efficiency, and a conflict task to measure cognitive control. Structural Equation Modelling was used to test the interrelations among the three constructs. As expected, metacognitive efficiency was positively related to cognitive control ability. Surprisingly, there was a negative relation between metacognitive efficiency and the degree to which subjective mind wandering reports tracked the behavioral index of mind wandering. No relation was found between cognitive control and behavioral mind wandering. The results of the current work are the first to shed light on the interrelations among these three constructs.
Drescher LH, Van den Bussche E, Desender K (2018) Absence without leave or leave without absence: Examining the interrelations among mind wandering, metacognition and cognitive control. PLOS ONE 13(2): e0191639. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0191639.
The article is available here.