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Inner experience in the scanner : can high fidelity apprehensions of inner experience be integrated with fMRI?

Kühn, S. and Fernyhough, C. and Alderson-Day, B. and Hurlburt, R. T. (2014) 'Inner experience in the scanner : can high fidelity apprehensions of inner experience be integrated with fMRI?', Frontiers in psychology., 5 . p. 1393.


To provide full accounts of human experience and behavior, research in cognitive neuroscience must be linked to inner experience, but introspective reports of inner experience have often been found to be unreliable. The present case study aimed at providing proof of principle that introspection using one method, descriptive experience sampling (DES), can be reliably integrated with fMRI. A participant was trained in the DES method, followed by nine sessions of sampling within an MRI scanner. During moments where the DES interview revealed ongoing inner speaking, fMRI data reliably showed activation in classic speech processing areas including left inferior frontal gyrus. Further, the fMRI data validated the participant’s DES observations of the experiential distinction between inner speaking and innerly hearing her own voice. These results highlight the precision and validity of the DES method as a technique of exploring inner experience and the utility of combining such methods with fMRI.

Item Type:Article
Keywords:Inner speech, Inner speaking, Inner hearing, Inner experience, Introspection, fMRI, Descriptive experience sampling, Mindwandering.
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Publisher statement:© 2014 Kühn, Fernyhough, Alderson-Day and Hurlburt. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.
Date accepted:14 November 2014
Date deposited:20 August 2015
Date of first online publication:09 December 2014
Date first made open access:No date available

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