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What goes on in the resting state? A qualitative glimpse into resting-state experience in the scanner.

Hurlburt, R. T. and Alderson-Day, B. and Fernyhough, C. and Kühn, S. (2015) 'What goes on in the resting state? A qualitative glimpse into resting-state experience in the scanner.', Frontiers in psychology., 6 . p. 1535.


The brain’s resting-state has attracted considerable interest in recent years, but currently little is known either about typical experience during the resting-state or about whether there are inter-individual differences in resting-state phenomenology. We used descriptive experience sampling (DES) in an attempt to apprehend high fidelity glimpses of the inner experience of five participants in an extended fMRI study. Results showed that the inner experiences and the neural activation patterns (as quantified by amplitude of low frequency fluctuations analysis) of the five participants were largely consistent across time, suggesting that our extended-duration scanner sessions were broadly similar to typical resting-state sessions. However, there were very large individual differences in inner phenomena, suggesting that the resting-state itself may differ substantially from one participant to the next. We describe these individual differences in experiential characteristics and display some typical moments of resting-state experience. We also show that retrospective characterizations of phenomena can often be very different from moment-by-moment reports. We discuss implications for the assessment of inner experience in neuroimaging studies more generally, concluding that it may be possible to use fMRI to investigate neural correlates of phenomena apprehended in high fidelity.

Item Type:Article
Keywords:Resting state, Descriptive experience sampling (DES), fMRI, Default mode network (DMN), Resting State Questionnaire (ReSQ), Mind wandering.
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Publisher statement:Copyright © 2015 Hurlburt, Alderson-Day, Fernyhough and Kühn. 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:22 September 2015
Date deposited:26 February 2016
Date of first online publication:08 October 2015
Date first made open access:No date available

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