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A paper Killingsworth et al., A Wandering Mind Is an Unhappy Mind, Science 12 November 2010: 932 (or a free pdf) starts with the following statement:

Unlike other animals, human beings spend a lot of time thinking about what is not going on around them, contemplating events that happened in the past, might happen in the future, or will never happen at all. Indeed, “stimulus-independent thought” or “mind wandering” appears to be the brain’s default mode of operation (1-3).

While the claim is supported for humans by the cited papers and their finding:

Mind wandering occurred in 46.9% of the samples and in at least 30% of the samples taken during every activity except making love.

I couldn't find a strong evidence that for all other animals it is not true. Even if it, arguably, may sound plausible for domestic animals, it seems less convincing for primates, elephants or dolphins (without a proper experimental support).

Are there any research on "wandering mind" for other animals? If so, do they support or refute the "unlike other animals" line?

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It seems that it is still a matter of debate whether animals are capable of mind wandering. For instance, there are a lot of publications about foresight, a future directed instance of mind wandering. Much of it comes from one group, e.g.,

Suddendorf T, Corballis MC. (2007) The evolution of foresight: What is mental time travel, and is it unique to humans? Behav Brain Sci. 30(3):299-313; discussion 313-51.

Suddendorf T, Corballis MC. (2010) Behavioural evidence for mental time travel in nonhuman animals. Behav Brain Res. 215(2):292-8.

But, for a review see:

Cheke Lucy G., Clayton Nicola S.. Mental time travel in animals. WIREs Cogn Sci 2010, 1: 915-930.

Or for a quite current example, see:

Osvath M, Karvonen E. (2012;7) Spontaneous innovation for future deception in a male chimpanzee. PLoS One (5):e36782.

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can you give a quick summary of what the Suddendorf & Corballis group typically conclude? –  Artem Kaznatcheev May 24 '12 at 2:53
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