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Department of Psychology


Publication details for Professor Charles Fernyhough

Hurlburt, R. T., Alderson-Day, B., Fernyhough, C. & Kühn, S. (2015). What goes on in the resting state? A qualitative glimpse into resting-state experience in the scanner. Frontiers in Psychology: Cognitive Science 6: 1535.

Author(s) from Durham


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.