Mind-Wandering Across the Age Gap: Age-Related Differences in Mind-Wandering Are Partially Attributable to Age-Related Differences in Motivation.

Journal Article (Journal Article)


A common finding in the mind-wandering literature is that older adults (OAs) tend to mind-wander less frequently than young adults (YAs). Here, we sought to determine whether this age-related difference in mind-wandering is attributable to age-related differences in motivation.


YAs and OAs completed an attention task during which they responded to thought probes that assessed rates of mind-wandering, and they provided self-reports of task-based motivation before and after completion of the attention task.


Age-related differences in mind-wandering are partially explained by differences in motivation, and motivating YAs via incentive diminishes mind-wandering differences across these groups.


We consider these results in the context of theories on age-related differences in mind wandering, with a specific focus on their relevance to the recently proposed motivational account of such age-related differences.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Seli, P; O'Neill, K; Carriere, JSA; Smilek, D; Beaty, RE; Schacter, DL

Published Date

  • August 2021

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 76 / 7

Start / End Page

  • 1264 - 1271

PubMed ID

  • 32107558

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC8363030

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1758-5368

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1079-5014

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1093/geronb/gbaa031


  • eng