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Book Chapter

Investigating the elements of thought: Toward a component process account of spontaneous cognition


Margulies,  Daniel S.
Max Planck Research Group Neuroanatomy and Connectivity, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;
Thomas Metzinger Philosophisches Seminar, Gutenberg Research College, Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz, Germany;

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Smallwood, J., Margulies, D. S., Bernhardt, B. C., & Jefferies, E. (2018). Investigating the elements of thought: Toward a component process account of spontaneous cognition. In The Oxford handbook of spontaneous thought: Mind-wandering, creativity, and dreaming (pp. 71-83). Oxford: Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/oxfordhb/9780190464745.013.34.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0001-E5A2-5
Spontaneous thoughts come in a large variety of different forms, varying in their experiential content as well as the functional outcomes with which they are associated. This chapter describes a component process architecture for spontaneous thought in which different types of experience arise through the combinations of different underlying neurocognitive processes. These underlying elements of cognition are not specific to spontaneous thought, since many, if not all, of these neurocognitive processes can be engaged when participants perform an externally directed task. We consider neurocognitive evidence that shows how this component process architecture provides explanatory value for accounts of spontaneous thought since it provides a mechanism that captures both the complex variety of spontaneous experiences that characterize the human condition, as well as the different functional outcomes that these different experiences are associated with.