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Front. Psychol. | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02791

Thought control ability moderates the effect of mind wandering on positive affect via the frontoparietal control network

Hong He1, Qunlin Chen1,  Dongtao Wei1, Liang Shi1 and  Jiang Qiu1*
  • 1Southwest University, China

Mind wandering is a phenomenon that involves thoughts shifting away from a primary task to the process of dealing with other personal goals. A large number of studies have found that mind wandering can predict negative emotions, but researchers have seldom focused on the positive role of mind wandering. The current study aimed to explore the relationships among mind wandering, emotions and thought control ability, which is the ability to inhibit one’s own unpleasant or unwanted intrusive thoughts. Here, we collected resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rsfMRI) data from 368 participants who completed a set of questionnaires involving mind wandering, thought control ability and positive or negative emotions. The results revealed that (1) rsfMRI connectivity features related to thought control ability and mind wandering could divide individuals into two groups: HMW (high mind-wandering) group and LMW (low mind-wandering) group. The HMW group scored lower in thought control ability (TCA), higher in negative emotion (NE) and lower in positive emotion (PE) than the LMW group. (2) TCA moderated the association between MW and positive affect (PA). (3) Two groups exhibited different segregation within key nodes (SWKN) of the frontoparietal control network (FPCN), and the subsequent analysis showed that the SWKN of the FPCN was negatively correlated with PA. These findings indicate that TCA moderates the effect of mind wandering on affect via the FPCN, which may have important implications for our understanding of the positive role of mind wandering.

Keywords: mind wandering, thought control ability, positive affect, frontoparietal control network, Moderating effect

Received: 02 Nov 2018; Accepted: 31 Dec 2018.

Edited by:

Yiping Zhong, Hunan Normal University, China

Reviewed by:

Rongjun Yu, National University of Singapore, Singapore
Wei Liao, University of Electronic Science and Technology of China, China  

Copyright: © 2018 He, Chen, Wei, Shi and Qiu. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Prof. Jiang Qiu, Southwest University, Chongqing, China, qiuj318@swu.edu.cn