Abstract: Is it possible for the mind to be blank? Conscious thought is central to human experience, and this centrality has led many to propose that the stream of consciousness is uninterrupted - that 'thought is without breach, crack, or division' (James, 1892). We propose that these presumptions of omnipresence are premature, and explore the phenomenon of 'mind-blanking,' a mental state defined by a lack of conscious thought. Using experimental evidence from several studies, we present the case that (1) mind-blanking is a distinct mental state, distinguishable from both stimulus-dependent thought and other stimulus-independent mental states such as mind-wandering; (2) mind-blanking is subject to ironic effects of mental control, such that attempts to suppress blanking result in more blanking than if suppression had never been attempted; and (3) mind-blanking is subject to ego depletion effects, such that ego-depleting activities result in higher incidences of blanking during a subsequent free thought period.
Blackmore, S. (2002) There is no stream of consciousness. ournal of Consciousness Studies, Volume 9, number 5-6 http://www.susanblackmore.co.uk/Articles/jcs02.htm
Jonathan W. Schooler (2002) Re-representing consciousness: dissociations between experience and meta- consciousness. TRENDS in Cognitive Sciences Vol.6 No.8