Archive for the ‘primary task’ Tag

Daydreaming and Attention Lapses

It is common in many everyday situations to suddenly notice that, for some time, we have been focusing on thoughts and feelings that are unrelated to what we are doing. These often unintentional mental states are examples of daydreaming, attention lapses, or mind wandering. During mind wandering, performance of the primary task ceases to be supervised by our attention and, instead, proceeds automatically. Our attention switches from the primary task, and our private thoughts become the focus of awareness. Because mind wandering involves a focus on internal information, these episodes involve a state of decoupled processing, as indicated by its relation to encoding. The experience of catching mind wandering indicates that we often lack awareness that one is off task. The failure to recognize that one is off task suggests that mind wandering involves a temporary failure in the ability to reflect upon the content of one’s own mental state.

If we are unaware that we are off task, we cannot acknowledge that we are mind wandering. In the absence of awareness that one is mind wandering, we cannot instantiate the control processes necessary to remedy the consequences of off-task episodes on performance. However, if we are aware that we are mind wandering, our behavior becomes more flexible, because we can strategically account for some of the negative consequences of off-task experiences.

Thinking about thinking mean you are in a conscious state thinking about your situational awareness. It may not come intuitively or automatically for us to be consciously thinking about our situational awareness while fulfilling all our duties and responsibilities at an emergency scene, but if we are able to elevate awareness to the conscious level, then awareness becomes as important as anything else we may be doing or thinking about. Situational awareness is an individual’s ability to perceive clues and cues about what is happening in his or her environment and to understand the meaning of those clues and cues in the context of how time is passing and then be able to make accurate predictions about future events to avoid bad outcomes.

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