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Scientific article
Open access
English

Mind blanking is a distinct mental state linked to a recurrent brain profile of globally positive connectivity during ongoing mentation

Publication date2022-10-04
First online date2022-10-04
Abstract

Mind blanking (MB) is a waking state during which we do not report any mental content. The phenomenology of MB challenges the view of a constantly thinking mind. Here, we comprehensively characterize the MB’s neurobehavioral profile with the aim to delineate its role during ongoing mentation. Using functional MRI experience sampling, we show that the reportability of MB is less frequent, faster, and with lower transitional dynamics than other mental states, pointing to its role as a transient mental relay. Regarding its neural underpinnings, we observed higher global signal amplitude during MB reports, indicating a distinct physiological state. Using the time-varying functional connectome, we show that MB reports can be classified with high accuracy, suggesting that MB has a unique neural composition. Indeed, a pattern of global positive-phase coherence shows the highest similarity to the connectivity patterns associated with MB reports. We interpret this pattern’s rigid signal architecture as hindering content reportability due to the brain’s inability to differentiate signals in an informative way. Collectively, we show that MB has a unique neurobehavioral profile, indicating that nonreportable mental events can happen during wakefulness. Our results add to the characterization of spontaneous mentation and pave the way for more mechanistic investigations of MB’s phenomenology.

eng
Keywords
  • Experience sampling
  • Functional connectivity
  • Mental content
  • Mind blanking
  • Resting state
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain / physiology
  • Brain Mapping
  • Connectome
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Thinking
Funding
  • Fonds De La Recherche Scientifique - FNRS - [40005435]
Citation (ISO format)
MORTAHEB, Sepehr et al. Mind blanking is a distinct mental state linked to a recurrent brain profile of globally positive connectivity during ongoing mentation. In: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 2022, vol. 119, n° 41, p. e2200511119. doi: 10.1073/pnas.2200511119
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Article (Published version)
Identifiers
ISSN of the journal0027-8424
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