[en] Mind-blanking (MB) is termed as the inability to report our immediate-past mental content. In contrast to mental states with reportable content, such as mind-wandering or sensory perceptions, the neural correlates of MB started getting elucidated only recently. A notable particularity that pertains to MB studies is the way MB is instructed for reporting, like by deliberately asking participants to “empty their minds”. Such instructions were shown to induce fMRI activations in frontal brain regions, typically associated with metacognition and self-evaluative processes, suggesting that MB may be a result of intentional mental content suppression. Here, we aim at examining this hypothesis by determining the neural correlates of MB without induction. Using fMRI combined with experience-sampling in 31 participants (22 female), univariate analysis of MB reports revealed deactivations in occipital, frontal, parietal, and thalamic areas, but no activations in prefrontal regions. These findings were confirmed using Bayesian region-of-interest analysis on areas previously shown to be implicated in induced MB, where we report evidence for frontal deactivations during MB reports compared to other mental states. Contrast analysis between reports of MB and content-oriented mental states also revealed deactivations in the left angular gyrus. We propose that these effects characterize a neuronal profile of MB, where key thalamocortical nodes are unable to communicate and formulate reportable content. Collectively, we show that study instructions for MB lead to differential neural activation. These results provide mechanistic insights linked to the phenomenology of MB and point to the possibility of MB being expressed in different forms.
Research center :
GIGA CRC In vivo Imaging - Physiology of Cognition - ULiège
Neurosciences & behavior
Author, co-author :
Boulakis, Paradeisios ; Université de Liège - ULiège > GIGA > GIGA CRC In vivo Imaging - Physiology of Cognition