Cognitive Sciences Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for practitioners, researchers, and students in cognitive science, psychology, neuroscience, and psychiatry. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I'm interested in how the human mind works, and over the years have experienced and took notice of a number of peculiar states of consciousness, thought patterns, dreams, etc.

While a lot of these states of mind are replicable, I do not know the correct English terminology for them, which makes it difficult to describe or explore them.

For example, if a person does not know the term deja-vu, two people can give very different accounts of "experienced something that just happened again" and use completely different words, while if they speak of common deja-vu experiences, everything is much clearer.

It is even harder with more complex concepts, like spontaneous, intuitive and non-verbal comprehension of a concept, for which the word noesis fits. Without knowing that word, it's really hard to convey or compare experiences.

Is there a way to learn to better express what's going on in one's head in such a way that the experience can be compared with another persons?

Maybe there's a comprehensive list of words that describe subjective states of mind, developed to help people better express themselves?

share|improve this question
I would like to upvote this but can't be the one to cause you to beat me in Chuckie's Race to 2K ;-) – Josh Gitlin Aug 16 '13 at 4:01
Haha, I was not aware of this competition. – Alex Stone Aug 16 '13 at 17:47
@AlexStone I don't mean to be glib, but would you accept (a more elaborate variation on) "scientific psychology" as an answer? I would say that developing such a vocabulary is a primary aspect of what scientific psychology is in the business of doing. – Christian Hummeluhr Mar 21 '15 at 13:29

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.