If you've seen a snickers commercial, it goes something like "you are a different person when you are hungry". I'm interested if the person's brain actually looks different when observed through fMRI if the person is tired/hungry, and the person's outlook on the world changes. For example things become more irritating.

Is there fMRI evidence to support that a person is capable of switching to a different "state of mind" based on the condition of the person's body or neuromodulator levels?

If there's a better term than "States of mind", could you suggest what it is? I'm thinking of an entrained state which changes the person's outlook on the past, present and the future, as well as influencing the choice of actions and behavior. Is there a good term I can google to find research on this topic?

Thank you for your input!

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    $\begingroup$ Drives in general can have an effect on drug seeking behaviors in humans and animals. A familiar smell of an old haunt or other cues can cause addicts to recidivate. I don't have any literature handy, but this is often associated with the nucleus accumbens. $\endgroup$ Oct 9, 2012 at 5:43
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    $\begingroup$ theory-of-the-mind is the social activity of recognizing or coming to learn that other individuals posses minds distinct from your own, you were looking for the tag philosophy-of-mind. Please take the time to read tag-wikis when you are unsure. $\endgroup$ Oct 9, 2012 at 11:04

1 Answer 1


Dario Ringach wrote in a letter titled Neuroscience: States of Mind:

(inline references removed, see link for references)

If the ability to perceive oriented stimuli is found to depend on the cortical state, we can then ask a number of important questions about cortical function. Is the time the cortex spends visiting particular states a function of attention? In other words, if an animal is trained to perceive horizontal stimuli, will there be a corresponding increase in the time the cortex spends sampling the horizontal orientation map relative to the other maps? Perhaps perceptual learning has more to do with 'top-down' mechanisms (brain processes learning how to 'control' the ongoing state of the early visual cortex) rather than 'bottom-up' mechanisms (external stimuli producing dramatic and long-lasting changes in the way the visual cortex processes incoming information). In more general terms, one might ask if such intrinsic cortical states represent the brain's 'current hypothesis' about the state of the external world. In this case, the purpose of the cortical machinery would be to continuously update the current hypothesis by considering new visual information.

Rabinovich is well-known in dynamical systems neuroscience for highlighting the importance of transient states (as opposed to attractor states). That is, it is the active dynamics that correlate with perceptive state, moreso than the steady-state dynamics. This view has experimental evidence from several different organisms (See the Rabinovich link) but the most notable example is Locust olfactory states.

The Rabinovich paper above is really the goldmine for this question, including fMRI evidence, but another source of fMRI theory in relation to brain states is Karl Friston's Free Energy Principle for the Brain

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you, the paper by Rabinovich sounds very much like what I've been looking for. $\endgroup$
    – Alex Stone
    Oct 10, 2012 at 14:52

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