Neural substrates of "mind wandering" have been widely reported, yet experiments have varied in their contexts and their definitions of this psychological phenomenon, limiting generalizability. We aimed to develop and test the generalizability, specificity, and clinical relevance of a functional brain network-based marker for a well-defined feature of mind wandering–stimulus-independent, task-unrelated thought (SITUT). Combining functional MRI (fMRI) with online experience sampling in healthy adults, we defined a connectome-wide model of inter-regional coupling–dominated by default-frontoparietal control subnetwork interactions–that predicted trial-by-trial SITUT fluctuations within novel individuals. Model predictions generalized in an independent sample of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) adults. In three additional resting-state fMRI studies (total n=1,115), including healthy and ADHD populations, we demonstrated further prediction of SITUT (at modest effect sizes) defined using multiple trait-level and in-scanner measures. Our findings suggest that SITUT is represented within a common pattern of brain network interactions across time scales, populations, and contexts.
bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience