Jonathan Smallwood

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Jonathan Smallwood
Jonathan Smallwood

(1975-10-13) 13 October 1975 (age 44)
Alma materUniversity of Strathclyde
Known forMind-wandering
Spouse(s)Helga Smallwood (née Reid)
Scientific career
ThesisTask Unrelated Thought:
Understanding the process of cognition
Doctoral advisorMarc Obonsawin

Jonathan Smallwood (born 1975) is a reader in the Department of Psychology at the University of York.[1] His research uses the tools of cognitive neuroscience to investigate the process by which the brain self generates thoughts not arising from perception, such as during the experience of mind-wandering and daydreaming.



The grandson of Joey Smallwood's cousin, Jonathan "Jonny" Smallwood earned his BA (1996) and PhD (2002) from The University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland. He was a lecturer in psychology at Glasgow Caledonian University (2002–2004) before traveling to the University of British Columbia as a post-doctoral researcher (2004–2006). From 2006 to 2008 he was a lecturer in psychology at the University of Aberdeen, after which Smallwood returned to North America to work with Jonathan Schooler as an assistant project scientist at the University of California, Santa Barbara. From 2011 to 2013 he was a senior researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in the Department of Social Neuroscience. Since August 2013, he has been a reader in psychology at the University of York.

Academic career[edit]

Smallwood has been a pioneer in the integration of cognitive neuroscience methodologies to the study of mind-wandering.[2]


Smallwood proposes the decoupling hypothesis, referring to the observation that individuals report having no memory of what happened in the surrounding environment while preoccupied with their thoughts.[3] In 2006, the publication of "The Restless Mind"[2] discussed a psychological framework for controversies characterizing cognitive neuroscience research into mind-wandering through the end of the decade.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Jonathan Smallwood - Psychology, The University of York". 29 September 2013. Retrieved 14 October 2013.
  2. ^ a b Smallwood, J. & Schooler, J.W. (2006). The Restless Mind. Psychological Bulletin, 132(6), 946-958.
  3. ^ Smallwood, J., Obonsawin, M.C., & Heim, D. (2003) Task Unrelated Thought: the role of distributed processing. Consciousness and Cognition. 12(2), 169-189.

External links[edit]