Thought Dynamics: Which Role for Mind Wandering in Creativity?

  • Manila VannucciEmail author
  • Sergio AgnoliEmail author
Part of the Creativity Theory and Action in Education book series (CTAE, volume 4)


For a long time, mainstream psychological research on cognitive processes has been focused on the investigation of externally-oriented cognition, namely deliberate processes generated in response to cues provided by the experimenter and associated with specific experimental paradigms. During the last two decades, there has been a surge of interest in both psychology and neuroscience toward the investigation of internally-oriented cognition, and, among the different kinds, a growing interest has been devoted to mind wandering (MW), which represents a shift in the contents of thought away from an ongoing task and/or from events in the external environment, toward internal mental contents. By definition, MW is characterized by a flow of thought, and it occurs without a fixed course or a drive to reach a specific goal. Creative thinking also involves dynamic shifts between different information and mental states. Does mind wandering contribute to creativity? Here we briefly review mixed findings on the association between MW and creativity and we outline a new multidimensional dynamic approach, in which the associations between different kinds of MW (i.e. spontaneous and deliberate) and different forms of creativity are considered. Practical implications of this approach are discussed.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of NEUROFARBA-Section of PsychologyUniversity of FlorenceFlorenceItaly
  2. 2.Marconi Institute for Creativity (MIC)Villa GriffoneItaly

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