Travis, F.T., Arenander, A., DuBois, D. (2004)
Psychological and physiological characteristics of a proposed object-referral/self-referral continuum of self-awareness. Consciousness and Cognition, 13/2, 401-420.
This research extends and confirms recent brainwave findings that distinguished an individual’s sense-of-self along an Object-referral/Self-referral Continuum of self-awareness. Subjects were interviewed and were given tests measuring inner/outer orientation, moral reasoning, anxiety, and personality. Scores on the psychological tests were factor analyzed. The first unrotated PCA component of the test scores yielded a “Consciousness Factor,” analogous to the intelligence “g” factor, which accounted for over half of the variance among groups. Analysis of unstructured interviews of these subjects revealed fundamentally different descriptions of self-awareness. Individuals who described themselves in terms of concrete cognitive and behavioral processes (predominantly Object-referral mode) exhibited lower Consciousness Factor scores, lower frontal EEG coherence, lower alpha and higher gamma power during tasks, and less efficient cortical preparatory responses (contingent negative variation). In contrast, individuals who described themselves in terms of an abstract, independent sense-of-self underlying thought, feeling and action (predominantly Self-referral mode) exhibited higher Consciousness Factor scores, higher frontal coherence, higher alpha and lower gamma power during tasks, and more efficient cortical responses. These data suggest that definable states of brain activity and subjective experiences exist, in addition to waking, sleeping and dreaming, that may be operationally defined by psychological and physiological measures along a continuum of Object-referral/Self-referral Continuum of self-awareness.