Default Mode Network Engagement Beyond Self-Referential Internal Mentation.

17 May 2018

The default mode network (DMN) is typically associated with off-task internal mentation, or with goal-oriented tasks that require self-referential processing such as autobiographical planning. However, recent reports suggest a broader involvement of the DMN in higher cognition. In line with this view, we report global connectivity changes that are centered on the main DMN hubs of precuneus and posterior cingulate cortex during a functional magnetic resonance imaging-based visuospatial version of the Tower of London planning task. Importantly, functional connectivity of these regions with the left caudate shows a significant relationship with faster reaction time to correct responses only during the high-demand planning condition, thus offering further evidence for the DMN's engagement during visuospatial planning. The results of this study not only provide robust evidence against the widely held notion of DMN disengagement during goal-oriented, attention-demanding, externally directed tasks but also support its involvement in a broader cognitive context with a memory-related role that extends beyond self-referential, internally directed mentation.