We designed a semi-structured questionnaire for the introspective evaluation of inner experience of participants undergoing functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in the resting state. This resting state questionnaire (ReSQ) consists of 62 items organized by five main types of mental activity: visual mental imagery (IMAG); inner language (LANG), split into two subtypes, inner speech (SPEE) and auditory mental imagery (AUDI); somatosensory awareness (SOMA); inner musical experience (MUSI); and mental manipulation of numbers (NUMB). For IMAG and LANG, additional questions estimated association of such activities with ongoing learning, retrospective memories, or prospective thoughts. Using a 0-100% scale, the participant quantitatively rated the proportion of time spent in each mental activity during the resting state fMRI acquisition. A total of 180 healthy volunteers completed the ReSQ immediately after being scanned with fMRI while at rest. Of these, 66% exhibited dominance of a type of mental activity at rest (IMAG: 35%; LANG: 17%; SOMA: 7%; MUSI: 6%; NUMB: 1%). A majority of participants reported either retrospective memories (82%) or prospective thoughts (78%), with 58% of participants reporting both in at least one type of mental activity. Thoughts related to ongoing learning were low (37% of participants). The present results are consistent with those of previous studies investigating inner experience in a natural environment. In conclusion, we provide a robust and easy-to-implement tool for the exploration of mental activities during rest of healthy participants undergoing fMRI. This tool relies on normative data acquired from a 180-participant sample balanced for sex and handedness.
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