When people entering anechoic chambers, logically there is a sensation of silence because relatively speaking, the sound levels are much lower compared to some normal baseline

Likewise, when there is emotional numbness there isn't a feeling of emotions nor there is an awareness that there isn't a feeling of emotion and the person will struggle to describe or comprehend emotion adjectives

Also for some people in anesthetics, they shared about what it is like to feel the consciousness is fading

All of these caused me to become curious on what the literature know about the neuroscience such as brain activity when subjects experience these feelings like feeling numb, feeling empty, feeling consciousness is fading, or all at the same time. Unfortunately neither my neuroscience professors are aware of something similar in the literature, nor intense googling on google scholar found any brain activity studies when people felt numb or something stronger

What is the technical name for all these seemly neutral emotions and (lack of) sensations?

Any known famous papers or literature that study the neuroactivity when subjects are experiencing these emotions?

  • $\begingroup$ reminds me of a buddhist concept, and note meditation is increasingly being subject to some scientific study en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C5%9A%C5%ABnyat%C4%81 $\endgroup$
    – vzn
    Commented Aug 16, 2018 at 17:45
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ As been stated by Chalmondley, your question seems to cover several different psychological states/traits. Regarding the experience of lacking emotions, it's commonly described in clinical terms as alexithymia. Dissociation can include - but cannot be reduced to - alexithymia. $\endgroup$
    – user15909
    Commented Jan 14, 2019 at 18:47
  • $\begingroup$ I doubt that there is such a thing as feeling nothing, there is a thing when you can't describe with words what you feel - and thereby tend to think that you are feeling nothing - so you probably looking for researches on Alexithymia or "operational thinking". $\endgroup$
    – klm123
    Commented Mar 22 at 18:27

1 Answer 1


Any question about neuroactivity (e.g., changes in firing rates) requires a comparison between two brain states. What would you compare with the absence of something? The question mentioned several states that I assume are qualitatively different. One way to investigate the original question would be to contrast such states with each other. Other low-emotion states could be found in the control condition of many existing studies.

I suggest you look into the default mode network and sleepiness as low-emotion states that have been widely investigated as neural activity.


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