Accessibility statement

Jonathan Smallwood



  • PhD, The University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, 2002

I have worked as a researcher in several different countries including Canada (the University of British Columbia), the United States (The University of California, Santa Barbara) and Germany (Max Plank Institute of Cognitive Science).



Understanding the cognitive neuroscience of self-generated thought.


I use the tools of cognitive neuroscience to understand how the brain produces experiences that do not arise directly from immediate perceptual input. We study naturally occurring examples of these phenomena (experiences such as daydreaming and mind-wandering) as well as with tasks that mimic these states. We use EEG, MEG, fMRI and TMS to understand these experiences.


  • Reading the wandering mind in the eyes, Defense Science and Technology Laboratory, £107,000
  • Mind-wandering during reading. Department of Education: Institute of Education Sciences. $1,750,000: CO-PI


  • Daniel Margulies, Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive Brain Sciences, Leipzig.
  • Jessica Andrews-Hanna, University of Colorado, Boulder.
  • Jonathan Schooler, University of Santa Barbara, California.
  • Micah Allen, University College London.
  • Antoine Lutz, Lyon Neuroscience Research Centre, France.
  • Florence Ruby (York)
  • Makiho Konishi (York)
  • Ben Baird (UCSB)


Selected publications

  • Baird, B., Smallwood, J., Gorgolewski, K. & Margulies, D.S. (2013). Medial and lateral networks in anterior prefrontal coretx support meta cognitive ability for memory and perception. Journal of Neuroscience
  • Smallwood, J., Tipper, C, Brown, K., Baird, B., Engen, H., Michaels, J. Grafton, S, & Schooler, J.W. (2013). Escaping the here and now: Evidence for a role of the default mode network in perceptually decoupled thought. Neuroimage.
  • Smallwood, J. Ruby, F. J. M., & Singer, T. (2013). Letting go of the present: task-unrelated thought is associated with reduced delay discounting. Consciousness & Cognition
  • Smallwood, J. (2013). Distinguishing how from why the mind wanders: a processing occurrence framework for self-generated thought. Psychological Bulletin.

Full publications list

Google Scholar profile



External activities


Editorial duties

Contact details

Jonathan Smallwood
Department of Psychology
Room PS/E008

Tel: 01904 32 4651