Mind-wandering as creative thinking: neural, psychological, and theoretical considerations

Kieran CR Fox, Roger E. Beaty

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Creative thinking is understood via a dual-process model involving the generation of creative ideas followed by their subsequent evaluation and refinement. Creative products must also meet a dual-criterion definition requiring that they be both novel and useful. Mind-wandering consists of self-generated thoughts unrelated to a task or the surrounding environment, involving a relatively spontaneous generation stage sometimes (but not always) followed by a more deliberate stage in which thoughts are evaluated and reflected upon. These stages of mind-wandering show brain recruitment similar to the equivalent stages of creative thinking, and moreover, much mind-wandering can be considered novel and useful. We aim to show that there is a profound analogy—perhaps even a direct relationship—between mind-wandering and creative thinking.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)123-130
Number of pages8
JournalCurrent Opinion in Behavioral Sciences
StatePublished - Jun 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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