Durantin, G., Dehais, F., & Delorme, A. (2015). Characterization of mind wandering using fNIRS. Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience, 9, 45. doi:10.3389/fnsys.2015.00045
Assessing whether someone is attending to a task has become important for educational and professional applications. Such attentional drifts are usually termed mind wandering (MW). The purpose of the current study is to test to what extent a recent neural imaging modality can be used to detect MW episodes. Functional near infrared spectroscopy is a non-invasive neuroimaging technique that has never been used so far to measure MW. We used the Sustained Attention to Response Task (SART) to assess when subjects attention leaves a primary task. Sixteen-channel fNIRS data were collected over frontal cortices. We observed significant activations over the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) during MW, a brain region associated with the default mode network (DMN). fNIRS data were used to classify MW data above chance level. In line with previous brain-imaging studies, our results confirm the ability of fNIRS to detect Default Network activations in the context of MW.