Спонтанные сбои внимания обусловлены ранними процессами на уровне предвнимания и тоническим предстимульным состоянием
It is well known, that even in optimal conditions animals and humans make spontaneous errors which are the most prominent manifestations of attention system failures. Our goal was to investigate the causes of attention system failures in normal state of arousal and without distracting objects. We have designed a new task which allows to answer the following question: which stage of sensory processing is compromised during attention lapses?
Mind-wandering is a specific state of consciousness, during which attention fully or partially switches from perception of external sensory information to inner mental processes. This state is largely spontaneous, and its content usually cannot be consciously controlled. Thoughts during mind wandering are generated by endogenous mental processes focusing on goals of high personal significance. These thoughts adversely interfere with processing of incoming information, thus leading to decreased efficacy of the ongoing activity, resulting in attentional lapses and errors. Dreaminess as a personality trait is directly related to mind wandering.
Switching to the mind-wandering state is related to competition between the motivational value of this process with the motivational value of current explicit activities, and it depends on cognitive (executive) control processes. The motivational value of mind wandering itself depends not only on the personal significance of the current thought content; this state appears also to be one of the basic human needs proving humans with the analysis of past experience and planning future activities, and thus is highly advantageous in a long-term perspective.
Mind-wandering is closely related to a number of other psychological phenomena such as reflection, metacognition (meta-consciousness), and mindfulness. The current review distinguishes between these phenomena and presents an approach to consider mind wandering a distinct process hallmarked by adverse effects on the ongoing activity.
The causal mechanisms of spontaneous attentional performance lapses in alert non-clinical individuals during purposeful responses to complex stimuli remain largely unknown. In order to address this question, the auditory condensation task was used, which involves both stimulus feature binding and response selection. This task is known to create high attentional load and is well suited to reveal subtle variations in the level of attention. Four auditory stimuli differing in two independent features were presented randomly with equal probability. Each stimulus required pressing one or the other of two buttons; constant stimulus-to-response mapping was based exclusively on feature conjunction. Participants made errors on 10.2 ± 0.7 % and response omissions on 5.4 ± 0.5 % of trials. In the ERP pattern, the N1 and P2 peaks were well pronounced, while later N2 and P3 peaks were rather small in amplitude. The P2 amplitude was greater on trials with errors compared to correct responses, possibly reflecting reduction in the stimulus processing. Spontaneous attentional performance lapses may be tentatively explained by inadequate distribution of attentional resources due to competition with other mental processes such as mind-wandering. This competition is likely to occasionally subdue early preattentional stages of stimulus processing and thus cause behavioral errors.