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Internally generated conscious contents: interactions between sustained mental imagery and involuntary subvocalizations.

Cho H, Godwin CA, Geisler MW, Morsella E - Front Psychol (2014)

Bottom Line: The conscious field includes not only representations about external stimuli (e.g., percepts), but also conscious contents associated with internal states, such as action-related intentions (e.g., urges).Although understudied, the latter may provide unique insights into the nature of consciousness.We discuss the implications of this new paradigm for the study of internally-generated conscious contents.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Psychology, San Francisco State University San Francisco, CA, USA.

ABSTRACT
The conscious field includes not only representations about external stimuli (e.g., percepts), but also conscious contents associated with internal states, such as action-related intentions (e.g., urges). Although understudied, the latter may provide unique insights into the nature of consciousness. To illuminate these phenomena, in a new experimental paradigm [Reflexive Imagery Task (RIT)], participants were instructed to not subvocalize the names of visually-presented objects. Each object was presented for 10 s on a screen. Participants indicated whenever they involuntarily subvocalized the object name. Research has revealed that it is difficult to suppress such subvocalizations, which occur on over 80% of the trials. Can the effect survive if one intentionally generates a competing (internally-generated) conscious content? If so, this would suggest that intentional and unintentional contents can co-exist simultaneously in consciousness in interesting ways. To investigate this possibility, in one condition, participants were instructed to reiteratively subvocalize a speech sound ("da, da, da") throughout the trial. This internally generated content is self-generated and intentional. Involuntary subvocalizations of object names still arose on over 80% of the trials. One could hypothesize that subvocalizations occurred because of the pauses between the intended speech sounds, but this is inconsistent with the observation that comparable results arose even when participants subvocalized a continuous, unbroken hum ("daaa….") throughout the trial. Regarding inter-content interactions, the continuous hum and object name seem to co-exist simultaneously in consciousness. This intriguing datum requires further investigation. We discuss the implications of this new paradigm for the study of internally-generated conscious contents.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus

Schematic depiction of a typical trial. Not drawn to scale.
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Figure 1: Schematic depiction of a typical trial. Not drawn to scale.

Mentions: Specifically, before each object presentation, the phrase “Do Not Think of the Name of the Object” was displayed in the center of the screen, serving as a ready prompt; participants indicated their readiness by pressing the space bar (Figure 1). For the two humming conditions, a “Begin Rehearsing” prompt appeared on the screen (1,500 ms) following the presentation of “Do Not Think of the Name of the Object.” This prompt allowed participants to initiate the mental rehearsal of the hum before the trial commenced. Once participants indicated their readiness, a fixation-cross (+) appeared in the center of the screen (700 ms), preparing participants for the presentation of the stimulus. Following the fixation, an object appeared for 10 s, during which time participants could indicate, by pressing the space bar, if they happened to think of the name of the object, and for each time that object-naming occurred for the duration of each trial.


Internally generated conscious contents: interactions between sustained mental imagery and involuntary subvocalizations.

Cho H, Godwin CA, Geisler MW, Morsella E - Front Psychol (2014)

Schematic depiction of a typical trial. Not drawn to scale.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4269111&req=5

Figure 1: Schematic depiction of a typical trial. Not drawn to scale.
Mentions: Specifically, before each object presentation, the phrase “Do Not Think of the Name of the Object” was displayed in the center of the screen, serving as a ready prompt; participants indicated their readiness by pressing the space bar (Figure 1). For the two humming conditions, a “Begin Rehearsing” prompt appeared on the screen (1,500 ms) following the presentation of “Do Not Think of the Name of the Object.” This prompt allowed participants to initiate the mental rehearsal of the hum before the trial commenced. Once participants indicated their readiness, a fixation-cross (+) appeared in the center of the screen (700 ms), preparing participants for the presentation of the stimulus. Following the fixation, an object appeared for 10 s, during which time participants could indicate, by pressing the space bar, if they happened to think of the name of the object, and for each time that object-naming occurred for the duration of each trial.

Bottom Line: The conscious field includes not only representations about external stimuli (e.g., percepts), but also conscious contents associated with internal states, such as action-related intentions (e.g., urges).Although understudied, the latter may provide unique insights into the nature of consciousness.We discuss the implications of this new paradigm for the study of internally-generated conscious contents.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Psychology, San Francisco State University San Francisco, CA, USA.

ABSTRACT
The conscious field includes not only representations about external stimuli (e.g., percepts), but also conscious contents associated with internal states, such as action-related intentions (e.g., urges). Although understudied, the latter may provide unique insights into the nature of consciousness. To illuminate these phenomena, in a new experimental paradigm [Reflexive Imagery Task (RIT)], participants were instructed to not subvocalize the names of visually-presented objects. Each object was presented for 10 s on a screen. Participants indicated whenever they involuntarily subvocalized the object name. Research has revealed that it is difficult to suppress such subvocalizations, which occur on over 80% of the trials. Can the effect survive if one intentionally generates a competing (internally-generated) conscious content? If so, this would suggest that intentional and unintentional contents can co-exist simultaneously in consciousness in interesting ways. To investigate this possibility, in one condition, participants were instructed to reiteratively subvocalize a speech sound ("da, da, da") throughout the trial. This internally generated content is self-generated and intentional. Involuntary subvocalizations of object names still arose on over 80% of the trials. One could hypothesize that subvocalizations occurred because of the pauses between the intended speech sounds, but this is inconsistent with the observation that comparable results arose even when participants subvocalized a continuous, unbroken hum ("daaa….") throughout the trial. Regarding inter-content interactions, the continuous hum and object name seem to co-exist simultaneously in consciousness. This intriguing datum requires further investigation. We discuss the implications of this new paradigm for the study of internally-generated conscious contents.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus