How phenomenal experience and behavior are related to neural activity in physiology and psychopathology represents a fundamental question in neuroscience and psychiatry. The phenomenal-behavior patterns may be deconstructed into basic dimensions, i.e., psychomotricity, affectivity, and thought, which might have distinct neural correlates. This work provides a data overview on the relationship of these phenomenal-behavioral dimensions with brain activity across physiological and pathological conditions (including major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, anxiety disorders, addictive disorders, Parkinson’s disease, Tourette syndrome, Alzheimer’s disease, and frontotemporal dementia). Accordingly, we propose a three-dimensional model of neural activity and phenomenal-behavioral patterns. In this model, neural activity is organized into distinct units in accordance with connectivity patterns and related input/output processing, manifesting in the different phenomenal-behavioral dimensions. (1) An external neural unit, which involves the sensorimotor circuit/brain’s sensorimotor network and is connected with the external environment, processes external inputs/outputs, manifesting in the psychomotor dimension (processing of exteroception/somatomotor activity). External unit hyperactivity manifests in psychomotor excitation (hyperactivity/hyperkinesia/catatonia), while external unit hypoactivity manifests in psychomotor inhibition (retardation/hypokinesia/catatonia). (2) An internal neural unit, which involves the interoceptive-autonomic circuit/brain’s salience network and is connected with the internal/body environment, processes internal inputs/outputs, manifesting in the affective dimension (processing of interoception/autonomic activity). Internal unit hyperactivity manifests in affective excitation (anxiety/dysphoria-euphoria/panic), while internal unit hypoactivity manifests in affective inhibition (anhedonia/apathy/depersonalization). (3) An associative neural unit, which involves the brain’s associative areas/default-mode network and is connected with the external/internal units (but not with the environment), processes associative inputs/outputs, manifesting in the thought dimension (processing of ideas). Associative unit hyperactivity manifests in thought excitation (mind-wandering/repetitive thinking/psychosis), while associative unit hypoactivity manifests in thought inhibition (inattention/cognitive deficit/consciousness loss). Finally, these neural units interplay and dynamically combine into various neural states, resulting in the complex phenomenal experience and behavior across physiology and neuropsychiatric disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)639-652
Number of pages14
JournalMolecular Psychiatry
Issue number3
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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