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  Medicine for the wandering mind: Mind wandering in medical practice

Smallwood, J., Mrazek, M. D., & Schooler, J. W. (2011). Medicine for the wandering mind: Mind wandering in medical practice. Medical Education, 45(11), 1072-1080. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2923.2011.04074.x.

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Item Permalink: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0012-5FC5-7 Version Permalink: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-002B-C6B7-6
Genre: Journal Article

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Smallwood, Jonathan1, Author              
Mrazek, Michael D.2, Author
Schooler, Jonathan W. 2, Author
Affiliations:
1Department Social Neuroscience, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society, ou_634552              
2Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, University of California Santa Barbara, CA, USA, ou_persistent22              

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 Abstract: Context  Mind wandering – defined as a cognitive focus on information that is unrelated to immediate sensory input or the task at hand – is a ubiquitous characteristic of the human condition. When it occurs, the integrity of a wide range of cognitive skills can be compromised. Objectives  The current paper describes the phenomenon of mind wandering, explores its potential role in medical practice and considers how the education system may profitably control this ubiquitous cognitive state. Methods  We argue that because many aspects of a medical professional’s work (such as fatigue and depression) maximise the mind’s tendency to wander, this experience is likely to be a common occurrence in many medical situations. We then review the psychological literature on mind wandering as it relates to medical practice. Conclusions  Based on this review, we suggest that because mind wandering interferes with an individual’s ability to integrate current events into a more general context, its occurrence may lead to downstream problems in the way that symptoms are interpreted and treated. Finally, because the experience of mind wandering is often both difficult to control and hard to recognise, it is difficult to prevent. We argue that techniques that help individuals to become more mindful have the potential to ameliorate the cost of mind wandering to the medical profession. Given the ubiquitous nature of the experience of mind wandering, the integration of mindfulness training into medical education programmes could be of general benefit to society at large.

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Language(s): eng - English
 Dates: 2011-10-122011-11
 Publication Status: Published in print
 Pages: -
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 Table of Contents: -
 Rev. Method: -
 Identifiers: DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2923.2011.04074.x
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Title: Medical Education
Source Genre: Journal
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Publ. Info: Oxford : Blackwell
Pages: - Volume / Issue: 45 (11) Sequence Number: - Start / End Page: 1072 - 1080 Identifier: ISSN: 0308-0110
CoNE: https://pure.mpg.de/cone/journals/resource/0308-0110