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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 representation of the temporal properties of conscious, intentional subvocalized humming (B, Continuous Hum; C, Punctate Hum) and unintentional subvocalizations throughout a hypothetical trial: Vertical lines indicate points in time at which participants reported stimulus-triggered, unintentional subvocalizations. In the Baseline condition (A), participants were not instructed to subvocalize any form of humming.
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Figure 3: Schematic representation of the temporal properties of conscious, intentional subvocalized humming (B, Continuous Hum; C, Punctate Hum) and unintentional subvocalizations throughout a hypothetical trial: Vertical lines indicate points in time at which participants reported stimulus-triggered, unintentional subvocalizations. In the Baseline condition (A), participants were not instructed to subvocalize any form of humming.

Mentions: Our RIT effect arose despite our interference manipulations, which, in one case, included a continuous and unbroken subvocalized hum (Figure 3). Moreover, the unintentional effect was observed on roughly the same percentage of trials (over 80%) as had been observed in experiments lacking any interference (e.g., Allen et al., 2013). The same conclusion can be drawn from the analysis of the rates of unintentional subvocalizations across trials or from the analysis of the mean number of unintentional subvocalizations per trial: the RIT effect was robust and, for both dependent measures and across the three conditions, the effect was always significantly different from zero. The latency of the first unintentional subvocalization tended to be shorter for the Baseline condition than for the Punctate condition. This observation corroborates what participants explicitly reported to the experimenter. Moreover, the difference found in the trial-by-trial ratings regarding the difficulty of sustaining the imagery (in which participants reported that it was easier to sustain the punctate imagery than the continuous imagery) provides further corroboration that participants were following instructions and instantiating, as instructed, the two different kinds of imagery. Perhaps our interference manipulation would have thwarted the RIT effect if another kind of imagery (e.g., complete words) had been sustained in working memory. As mentioned above, there are logistical challenges encountered when attempting to use whole words as the form of sustained imagery in trials spanning several seconds.


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

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

Schematic representation of the temporal properties of conscious, intentional subvocalized humming (B, Continuous Hum; C, Punctate Hum) and unintentional subvocalizations throughout a hypothetical trial: Vertical lines indicate points in time at which participants reported stimulus-triggered, unintentional subvocalizations. In the Baseline condition (A), participants were not instructed to subvocalize any form of humming.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

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

Figure 3: Schematic representation of the temporal properties of conscious, intentional subvocalized humming (B, Continuous Hum; C, Punctate Hum) and unintentional subvocalizations throughout a hypothetical trial: Vertical lines indicate points in time at which participants reported stimulus-triggered, unintentional subvocalizations. In the Baseline condition (A), participants were not instructed to subvocalize any form of humming.
Mentions: Our RIT effect arose despite our interference manipulations, which, in one case, included a continuous and unbroken subvocalized hum (Figure 3). Moreover, the unintentional effect was observed on roughly the same percentage of trials (over 80%) as had been observed in experiments lacking any interference (e.g., Allen et al., 2013). The same conclusion can be drawn from the analysis of the rates of unintentional subvocalizations across trials or from the analysis of the mean number of unintentional subvocalizations per trial: the RIT effect was robust and, for both dependent measures and across the three conditions, the effect was always significantly different from zero. The latency of the first unintentional subvocalization tended to be shorter for the Baseline condition than for the Punctate condition. This observation corroborates what participants explicitly reported to the experimenter. Moreover, the difference found in the trial-by-trial ratings regarding the difficulty of sustaining the imagery (in which participants reported that it was easier to sustain the punctate imagery than the continuous imagery) provides further corroboration that participants were following instructions and instantiating, as instructed, the two different kinds of imagery. Perhaps our interference manipulation would have thwarted the RIT effect if another kind of imagery (e.g., complete words) had been sustained in working memory. As mentioned above, there are logistical challenges encountered when attempting to use whole words as the form of sustained imagery in trials spanning several seconds.

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