More than off-task: Increased freely-moving thought in ADHD

Brittany R. Alperin, Kalina Christoff, Caitlin Mills, Sarah L. Karalunas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Off-task thought has been found to occur at high rates and is related to impairment in ADHD. However, off-task thought is heterogenous and it remains unclear which specific dimensions of off-task thought are more prevalent in this disorder. It is therefore important to dissociate different aspects of off-task thought in order to better understand the mechanisms underlying impairment. The current study focused on the dimension of constrained (focused) to freely moving off-task thought. Self-report and neurophysiological measures during a computerized attention tasks provided convergent evidence that individuals with ADHD not only have more off-task thought than those without, but also engaged in a greater proportion of freely moving off-task thought than non-ADHD controls. Overall, this work demonstrated differences in both the quantity and type of off-task thought in adults with ADHD. It provides novel insight into both the phenomenology of off-task thought, as well as potential mechanisms underlying impairment in ADHD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number103156
JournalConsciousness and Cognition
StatePublished - Aug 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was funded by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (TL1 TR002371; PI: Alperin). Sample recruitment was partially supported by the National Institute of Mental Health (R44 MH099709; PI: Simpson). Karalunas’ time was supported by K23 MH108656.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier Inc.


  • ADHD
  • EEG
  • Mind wandering
  • Off-task thought


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