Psychonomic Bulletin & Review

, Volume 21, Issue 3, pp 728–733 | Cite as

On the asymmetric effects of mind-wandering on levels of processing at encoding and retrieval

  • David R. ThomsonEmail author
  • Daniel Smilek
  • Derek Besner
Brief Report


The behavioral consequences of off-task thought (mind-wandering) on primary-task performance are now well documented across an increasing range of tasks. In the present study, we investigated the consequences of mind-wandering on the encoding of information into memory in the context of a levels-of-processing framework (Craik & Lockhart, 1972). Mind-wandering was assessed via subjective self-reports in response to thought probes that were presented under both semantic (size judgment) and perceptual (case judgment) encoding instructions. Mind-wandering rates during semantic encoding negatively predicted subsequent recognition memory performance, whereas no such relation was observed during perceptual encoding. We discuss the asymmetric effects of mind-wandering on levels of processing in the context of attentional-resource accounts of mind-wandering.


Recognition memory Attention and memory 


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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • David R. Thomson
    • 1
    Email author
  • Daniel Smilek
    • 1
  • Derek Besner
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of WaterlooWaterlooCanada

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