Consistency and functional specialization in the default mode brain network.
The notion of a "default mode of brain function" has taken on certain relevance in human neuroimaging studies and in relation to a network of lateral parietal and midline cortical regions that show prominent activity fluctuations during passive imaging states, such as rest. In this study, we perform three fMRI experiments that demonstrate consistency and specialization in the default mode network. Correlated activity fluctuations of default mode network regions are identified during (i) eyes-closed spontaneous rest, (ii) activation by moral dilemma, and (iii) deactivation by Stroop task performance. Across these imaging states, striking uniformity is shown in the basic anatomy of the default mode network, but with both tasks clearly and differentially modulating this activity compared with spontaneous fluctuations of the network at rest. Against rest, moral dilemma is further shown to evoke regionally specific activity increases of hypothesized functional relevance. Mapping spontaneous and task-related brain activity will help to constrain the meaning of the default mode network. These findings are discussed in relation to recent debate on the topic of default modes of brain function.