PC2 – Mindfulness as a method to explore your mind-wandering with curiosity

Lecturer: Marieke van Vugt
Fields: Cognitive science/Psychology


In the first session, we will introduce the methods of mindfulness, and discuss how mindfulness differs from mind-wandering. Contrary to popular belief, mindfulness is not the opposite of mind-wandering, but rather the cultivation of mindfulness involves becoming better friends with your mind so that you learn to become less stuck in thought processes. We will also review conceptual models of mindfulness and mind-wandering together with some research underpinnings. In addition, we will introduce the first and third-person perspective on studying the mind and basics of microphenomenology. We will also start a small experiment with our own mindfulness practice, which we will analyse in the last session of the course.
In the second session, we will continue our practice of mindfulness, and review research findings on the effects of mindfulness on cognitive function and brain activity.
In the third session, we will continue our practice of mindfulness. We will place mindfulness in the context of different meditation practices, discussing similarities and differences. We will also discuss in general how we can study mindfulness scientifically and how to do so rigorously.
In the fourth session, apart from practicing mindfulness, we will discuss the findings of our little experiments. There will also be ample space for questions and additional topics to discuss.


  • Tang, Y. Y., H√∂lzel, B. K., & Posner, M. I. (2015). The neuroscience of mindfulness meditation. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 16(4), 213. https://www-nature-com/articles/nrn3916
  • Vago, D. R., & David, S. A. (2012). Self-awareness, self-regulation, and self-transcendence (S-ART): a framework for understanding the neurobiological mechanisms of mindfulness. Frontiers in human neuroscience, 6, 296. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnhum.2012.00296
  • Petitmengin, C., van Beek, M., Bitbol, M., Nissou, J. M., & Roepstorff, A. (2018). Studying the experience of meditation through micro-phenomenology. Current opinion in psychology. https://www-sciencedirect-com/science/article/pii/S2352250X18301908


Marieke van Vugt
Dr. van Vugt

Dr. van Vugt is an assistant professor at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, working in the department of artificial intelligence. She obtained her PhD in model-based neuroscience from the University of Pennsylvania, then worked as a postdoc at Princeton University before moving to the University of Groningen. In her lab, she focuses on understanding the cognitive and neural mechanisms underlying decision making, mind-wandering and meditation by means of EEG, behavioural studies and computational modeling. In some slightly outside-the-box research, she also records the brain waves of Tibetan monks and dancers.

Affiliation: University of Groningen
Homepage: https://mkvanvugt.wordpress.com