Associations between self-reported spontaneous thought and temporal sequences of EEG microstates

Anthony P. Zanesco, Ekaterina Denkova, Amishi P. Jha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Thought dynamically evolves from one moment to the next even in the absence of external stimulation. The extent to which patterns of spontaneous thought covary with time-varying fluctuations in intrinsic brain activity is of great interest but remains unknown. We conducted novel analyses of data originally reported by Portnova et al. (2019) to examine associations between the intrinsic dynamics of EEG microstates and self-reported thought measured using the Amsterdam Resting-State Questionnaire (ARSQ). Accordingly, the millisecond fluctuations of microstates were associated with specific dimensions of thought. We evaluated the reliability of these findings by combining our results with those of another study using meta-analysis. Importantly, we extended this investigation using multivariate methods to evaluate multidimensional thought profiles of individuals and their links to sequences of successive microstates. Thought profiles were identified based on hierarchical clustering of ARSQ ratings and were distinguished in terms of the temporal ordering of successive microstates based on sequence analytic methods. These findings demonstrate the relevance of assessing spontaneous thought for understanding intrinsic brain activity and the novel use of sequence analysis for characterizing microstate dynamics. Integrating the phenomenological view from within remains crucial for understanding the functional significance of intrinsic large-scale neurodynamics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number105696
JournalBrain and Cognition
StatePublished - Jun 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • EEG
  • Microstates
  • Mind wandering
  • Resting state
  • Sequence analysis
  • Spontaneous thought

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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