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The advantages of thoughts wandering on a naturalistic potential reminiscence job


This research was performed on 60 members (imply age: 22.08 ± 4.76 years). Individuals had been recruited both by means of Université Paris Cité intranet or by means of RISC (Relay of knowledge on the sciences of cognition). For Université Paris Cité college students, members obtained credit to validate a course on analysis methodology. On the RISC platform, voluntary participation within the experiment was compensated by a 10-euro voucher. To be eligible for the research, topics ought to: (1) be between 18 and 35 years previous, (2) be a French speaker, (3) have regular or corrected imaginative and prescient, (4) not have sensorimotor deficits incompatible with digital actuality navigation, (5) not have a historical past of neurological or psychiatric problems, (6) not be taking treatment that might have an effect on cognitive functioning, (7) not be simply liable to movement illness, (8) not be liable to growing a extreme type of Covid-19 illness, (9) not be an everyday/knowledgeable meditation practitioner. In digital actuality (VR), members could also be topic to nausea associated to navigation in a VR surroundings. This phenomenon, known as cybersickness, is extra pronounced in people liable to movement illness. This exclusion criterion subsequently allowed us to exclude members who might endure from this sickness throughout the experiment and thus to scale back the dropout charge of the themes within the research. The final exclusion criterion regarding the observe of meditation can also be essential as people who find themselves certified as “specialists” in meditation (i.e. a number of hours per week for a number of years), will are inclined to restrict their circulation of wandering ideas extra, which might represent a bias in our study76,77. Knowledgeable consent was obtained from all members, and the moral committee from College Paris Metropolis accredited the research which has been carried out in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki.

Every participant was randomly assigned to one of many following two teams: Low Cognitive Load (N = 30, 24 females and 6 males, imply age = 20.96 ± 3.5 years) and Excessive Cognitive Load (N = 30, 27 females and three males, imply age = 22.76 ± 5.23) in response to a between-subject design. The cognitive load was manipulated with a view to induce extra (Low Cognitive Load) or much less (Excessive Cognitive Load) MW frequency71. The “low cognitive load” group will likely be known as the EASY group for the remainder of the research, whereas the “excessive cognitive load” group will likely be known as the HARD group.

Topics had been matched on demographic (age, t(58) = − 1.57, p = 0.12; tutorial degree, t(58) = − 1.57, p = 0.12), nervousness and despair (PHQ-478, t(58) = 0.316, p = 0.75; nervousness, t(58) = 1.81, p = 0.75 and despair; t(58) = 0.32, p = 0.75), government perform skills similar to inhibition (Stroop–Stroop, 1935; t(58) = 1.7, p = 0.09), flexibility (Switch79; t(58) = 1.51, p = 0.136), updating in working reminiscence (SimAct79; t(58) = − 0.127, p = 0.9) and metamemory aptitude (MPMI-s80; t(58) = − 0.445, p = 0.658). They had been additionally matched on thoughts wandering trait (MWQ26; t(58) = 1.73, p = 0.09). Descriptive statistics are reported in Supplementary Supplies (Desk 2).


The pc tools for the checks and questionnaires, in addition to for the MW job, consisted of a Dell monitor with a decision of 1920 × 1200 pixels, a keyboard and a mouse. The set of cognitive questionnaires and checks, in addition to the MW job was programmed in Python 3.6, utilizing the open-source module Neuropsydia 1.0.581.

The VR tools used for immersion and interplay within the digital surroundings was the HTC Vive PRO set. It was composed of a VR headset with built-in headphones, two controllers, current on each side of the headset on the picture, in addition to two spatial sensors within the background. Positioned in two reverse corners within the VR room, the sensors make it potential to find at any time the helmet and the controllers in area to permit navigation. The STEAMVR™ software program can play any VR recreation particularly with the HTV Vive Professional headset used right here. The VR surroundings used for the experiment was fully designed utilizing UNITY v2021.1.20 software program.

The digital surroundings (VE), developed on the MC2 Lab (e.g.,, consisted of a giant metropolis resembling Paris, with roads, vehicles, sidewalks with passers-by and animated scenes with avatars in addition to buildings, shops, fuel stations, parks, and well-known locations such because the Eiffel Tower and the arch of La Défense (Fig. 1). A soundtrack reproduces ambient metropolis noise (horns, conversations of passers-by, and many others.) and the interplay of the topic in VR can also be represented within the VE in actual time (look of verbal directions, audio tapes, …). An surroundings particular to the coaching section (offered subsequent) was additionally created. It was much like town of the principle job, however differed barely when it comes to the buildings encountered, the outlets, monuments, and many others.

Determine 1 Aerial view of the digital metropolis designed within the MC2 Lab utilizing UNITY v2021.1.20 software program. Full measurement picture

Thoughts wandering manipulation and evaluation

The MW manipulation was the identical as that utilized in our earlier study71. The duty included two blocks (Straightforward & Onerous), every participant being randomly assigned to considered one of them. Every block was composed of 48 trials offered in a random order. In every block, one merchandise (the picture of a standard object similar to a instrument, a chunk of furnishings, or meals) was offered on-screen. Of those 48 trials, 42 offered totally different gadgets (lures), whereas the remaining six offered six beforehand seen gadgets (goal) which had been randomly chosen for every participant. The gadgets moved slowly (at a pace of about 3.5 cm/s) from left to proper alongside a black line within the centre of the display screen, as in the event that they had been shifting alongside a manufacturing unit line (Fig. 2). To strengthen this impression—and to function a masks—the picture was not seen at first, hidden by the picture of a cardboard field, till it reached the primary tier of the road (after about 3 s), at which level the field disappeared and revealed the merchandise. This was carried out to keep away from the participant processing the merchandise earlier than it was absolutely seen on the display screen. Two parallel traces had been additionally current on the display screen: a purple and a inexperienced one, respectively above and beneath the central line. Each had been equidistant from the black line (7.5° of visible angle, at a distance of 60 cm). Individuals had been knowledgeable that they needed to carry out a classification job on the objects and had been informed that the duty was like “being a manufacturing unit employee processing gadgets on a line”. Extra exactly, they needed to carry out an adaptation of the n-back job, the place they needed to evaluate the picture offered on the display screen to the earlier picture (1-back, low working reminiscence load situation, EASY) or the picture offered three trials earlier than (3-back, excessive working reminiscence load situation, HARD). If the 2 photographs matched, members needed to transfer the merchandise, as shortly as potential, as much as the purple line, with the up key. If not, the picture needed to be moved all the way down to the inexperienced line, with the down key. After the participant’s response, the pictures stayed on-screen till the tip of the trial (for a complete of about 15 s). Individuals had been additionally knowledgeable that, sometimes, a thought probe would seem on the display screen and quickly cease the duty.

Determine 2 Schematic illustration of a trial. The merchandise drifted slowly from left to proper alongside the black line, first masked as a cardboard field for the primary 3 s of the trial (a). Then, when it appeared, the participant needed to redirect it to one of many coloured traces (b). Afterward, the merchandise couldn’t be moved till the tip of the trial, for a complete period of 15 s (c). Full measurement picture

In every situation, twelve probes had been randomly offered. Every probe was made up of a sequence of a number of questions. The questions requested had been progressive and conditional to the solutions to the earlier questions (Desk 1). Within the first query, members needed to point out the thing of their consideration: “I’m completely centered on the duty” (Focus), “I’m completely centered on my ideas” (Thoughts wandering) or “I used to be distracted by an exterior occasion” (Exterior). Questions associated to the MW response assessed each the kind of MW (Episodic Previous Considering (EPT), Episodic Future Considering (EFT), Planning, Imaginary or Different) and the supply of MW (Spontaneous or Voluntary). Probes had been dispatched pseudo randomly, each two to 4 trials (30–60 s) and stayed on-screen till the participant’s response. Each circumstances lasted for about 15 m.

Desk 1 Thoughts wandering probes: Questions and their responses. Full measurement desk

Potential reminiscence evaluation


Utilizing a slide present broadcast on a pc display screen, members had been invited to memorize an inventory of 15 gadgets, consisting of associations between a cue (an image) and an motion (a sentence), offered in a unique order from that during which they are going to be recalled. The gadgets had been divided into 3 classes (5 gadgets per class): event-based semantically linked—EBL (e.g., “On the florist’s, purchase a plant”); event-based semantically non-linked—EBN (e.g., “On the fuel station, purchase ice-cubes”) and time-based—TB (e.g., “At 5 min, drink some water”). Individuals needed to learn aloud the content material of the slide offered to them, i.e., a sentence linking the cue to the motion (instance: “On the market, purchase greens”). Individuals had as a lot time as they needed to memorize it. As soon as they’d moved on to the subsequent slide, they might not return. On the finish of the 15 gadgets of the record, a cued recall was carried out. For every of the 15 gadgets, members had been proven the spatio-temporal cue, they usually needed to recall the related motion. In the event that they didn’t recall your complete record, they might repeat studying for as much as three tries. Every error was reported on a ranking sheet.

9 additional PM gadgets (3 EBL, 3 EBN and 3TB) had been additionally offered throughout the digital metropolis navigation, by means of interactions with different avatars or reception of digital SMS.

Digital surroundings coaching

The exercise was progressive and divided into 5 sequences. The target was to show the topic, in a sequential approach, to hold out all 4 missions constituting the PM job. The ultimate stage of coaching introduced all of the missions collectively, on the similar time. Instruction panels had been displayed on the trail taken by the avatar to supply the required indications as they went alongside. Oral help from the experimenter was typically mandatory to supply clarification on these directions. Throughout the first sequence, members realized to make use of the controllers to maneuver across the metropolis. They might transfer utilizing a touchpad on the correct joystick. The avatar, within the digital metropolis, adopted the actual rotational motion of the participant’s physique. The participant had additionally an inventory of locations to succeed in that he might show in entrance of him by elevating the left joystick to eye degree. The record was hooked up to a digital watch, indicating the time within the surroundings in minutes and seconds. On the record, there have been totally different locations current within the metropolis in a particular order. The aim was to succeed in these totally different locations by strolling, utilizing the site visitors indicators to navigate, and to validate every mission on the record (Fig. 3). The second coaching sequence consisted in getting shut sufficient to the place in query (lower than 2 m within the VR), ready for a “beep” that indicated that the merchandise had been checked off the record. On listening to this, a “√” signal appeared (to the left of the factor), indicating that the step had been accurately validated. As soon as validated, members needed to go to the subsequent place utilizing the subsequent indicators. The totally different locations had been to be adopted within the order offered, creating an analogous path for all members by means of town. On their approach, as a 3rd coaching sequence, we defined to them that they’d have actions to carry out somewhere else, which might come, specifically, from SMS. Then, throughout the fourth sequence, we added an excerpt from a podcast and questions regarding the podcast; this particular step simulated the continuing job within the PM evaluation. Lastly, the fifth and final coaching sequence consisted in performing all of the earlier sequences on the similar time.

Determine 3 Digital watch with the record of things to succeed in within the metropolis and an instance of an orientation signal. Full measurement picture

PM job

The PM job consisted of a twenty-minute navigation within the digital metropolis (period = 20.06 ± 2.33 min). Individuals had been immersed within the digital surroundings and needed to perform the three missions. One in all them was the PM job. The target of the navigation job (on-going job N°1) was to finish 7 actions that had been a part of an authentic trip state of affairs.

The state of affairs was offered as follows: “You’re leaving on a visit tomorrow and never all the things is but finalized on your keep. You have to go to totally different locations within the metropolis, following the imposed itinerary, with a view to finalize your preparations. In flip, you’ll have to go to a clothes retailer to purchase a swimsuit, to the grocery store to take a passport picture, to town corridor to get your passport, to the journey company to guide an evening in a resort, to the pharmacy to purchase mosquito repellent and to the financial institution to purchase insurance coverage”.

The totally different places needed to be reached within the order offered, creating an analogous path for all members by means of town. Whereas finishing this set of aims, members had been requested to take heed to a podcast (on-going job N°2). The podcast was an interview of a younger boy who went on a highway journey along with his mother and father in a motorhome for six months. Because the members went alongside, questions regarding the content material of the podcast appeared on the display screen in entrance of the digital display screen and members needed to reply them aloud. The target was to verify that they had been centered on listening to the podcast throughout their navigation. Twenty open questions relative to the podcast content material had been requested over your complete period of the navigation (i.e., “What did Clement want in Italy?”). One level was awarded for every right reply. A ratio was then obtained by dividing the overall variety of right solutions by the overall variety of questions.

The PM job consisted of 24 gadgets to retrieve, 15 encoded earlier than MW induction (see Encoding part), and 9 (3 EBL, 3 EBN, 3TB) which had been offered to them throughout navigation within the digital metropolis. Within the latter case, intentions might come from two sources: from interactions with avatars who walked as much as the themes on their approach and who spoke to them, by way of a written message displayed like a comic book bubble; and by way of the reception of digital SMS messages additionally displayed in entrance of them. A PM merchandise was composed of a potential temporal cue (the reference time is the navigation time, displayed on the digital watch) or a potential environmental cue (locations/monuments current within the surroundings) and an motion to be carried out related to this cue. The record of all PM cues is offered in Supplementary Materials (Desk 1).


Navigation came about 20 min after the encoding section. Alongside the trail decided by the gadgets on the record they needed to attain within the digital metropolis, members had subsequently to have the ability to establish the possible cues (spatial and temporal) and to recall the actions related to them. For event-based cues, they needed to strategy to inside 2 m of the place indicated on the record after they thought they’d noticed it within the surroundings. Then, they needed to pull the set off behind their proper controller, inflicting an indication to look that learn “What can I do for you?” Solely then might they recall the motion out loud after which stroll away. For time-based cues, they might merely state the motion, aloud, on the applicable time. On this case, the watch indicated the time and members subsequently needed to keep in mind to have a look at it to verify what time it was. The time was not all the time visually accessible, members needed to increase their left wrist, the place the digital watch was positioned, to eye degree. For every PM merchandise, an ordinary scoring was used based mostly on our earlier VR-PM studies70,82: 1 level was assigned if the placement or time of motion’s retrieval was right (potential part) and 1 further level if the corresponding recalled motion was right (retrospective part). If the 2 parts of the motion had been right, the utmost rating was 2. Lastly, topics had been submitted to a cued recall of occasion/time motion associations. This was carried out to manage that any potential variations in PM between teams weren’t because of variations within the PM retrospective part encoding. Of be aware, all of the PM scoring was carried out by an experimenter blind to the MW manipulation.

Supplementary assessments


As temper can have an affect on the retrieval of PM intentions, we included the Affected person Well being Questionnaire (PHQ-4); 83,84 as a fast analysis of despair and nervousness. We additionally used the MW Questionnaire (MWQ)85 a brief 5-item questionnaire to judge members’ tendency to expertise episodes of thoughts wandering.

PM skills strongly rely upon the totally different methods folks use to recollect their intentions. On this research, we launched the quick model of the Metacognitive Potential Reminiscence Stock (MPMI-s)80 that permits for a fast evaluation of particular person variations in self-reported PM skills (8 gadgets) in addition to in using mnemonic methods (e.g., intention rehearsal, 7 gadgets) and exterior reminiscence aids (e.g., calendars, 7 gadgets).

Lastly, after VR navigation, members had been assessed on totally different measures associated to using VR, such because the Medical Scholar Stressor Questionnaire (MSSQ)86, used to measure susceptibility to movement illness, the Presence87 measuring the diploma of presence/expertise of the participant within the VR surroundings, or Cybersickness88, assessing whether or not the VR expertise brought on the topic to expertise cybersickness.


The experiment lasted 93 ± 14 min. Every participant carried out the take a look at in the identical experimental room to standardize the circumstances. They had been first requested to learn an outline of the experiment and to signal a written consent kind. Then, the participant accomplished an anamnesis and continued with 2 questionnaires: MSSQ and PHQ-4 earlier than shifting on to three cognitive checks: Stroop, Change and SimAct. Then, the digital actuality coaching section was proposed. As soon as the coaching was accomplished and the VR headset had been eliminated, members had been seated at a desk dealing with a display screen to study PM gadgets and accomplished the Metamemory questionnaire. Afterward, members had been confronted with thoughts wandering induction (n-back job). Throughout this section, they had been left alone within the room to keep away from any attentional disturbance on the a part of the experimenter who was thus blind to the n-back job. On the finish, a second metamemory questionnaire was administered. They had been then re-equipped with the helmet and controllers to finish the PM job in VR.

Throughout the navigation, the experimenter manually rated the accuracy of the PM and on-going job (questions on the podcast content material) solutions. After a break of some minutes, giving the topic time to relaxation from looking, he was requested to finish the experimentation with a collection of questionnaires: post-test metamemory questionnaire, Presence, Cybersickess, MWQ and MPMI -s. Lastly, the delayed cued recall was carried out utilizing a devoted paper kind (Fig. 4).

Determine 4 Abstract of the experimental protocol. Full measurement picture

Information evaluation