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Open Access Publications from the University of California

A Computational Model of Unintentional Mind Wandering in Focused Attention Meditation


Why does the mind wander? Recent theoretical models suggest mental content depends on a calculation that measures the expected rewards gained from the current task compared to other cognitive tasks and procedures. In Focused Attention Meditation (FA), participants practice attentional control by maintaining attention to an internal stimulus. Throughout the task, attentional lapses occur, in which there is an abrupt shift to mind wandering. We propose a model that formalizes attentional lapses as the interaction between a controller that boosts attentional resources to a target according to expected value calculations and a metacognitive monitoring procedure that stochastically observes internal contents. The model is applied to explain individual variation in button press data on an FA meditation task.

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