To investigate age-related default mode network (DMN) connectivity in a large cognitively normal elderly cohort and in patients with Alzheimer disease (AD) compared with age-, gender-, and education-matched controls.
We analyzed task-free–fMRI data with both independent component analysis and seed-based analysis to identify anterior and posterior DMNs. We investigated age-related changes in connectivity in a sample of 341 cognitively normal subjects. We then compared 28 patients with AD with 56 cognitively normal noncarriers of the APOE ϵ4 allele matched for age, education, and gender.
The anterior DMN shows age-associated increases and decreases in fontal lobe connectivity, whereas the posterior DMN shows mainly age-associated declines in connectivity throughout. Relative to matched cognitively normal controls, subjects with AD display an accelerated pattern of the age-associated changes described above, except that the declines in frontal lobe connectivity did not reach statistical significance. These changes survive atrophy correction and are correlated with cognitive performance.
The results of this study indicate that the DMN abnormalities observed in patients with AD represent an accelerated aging pattern of connectivity compared with matched controls.
Neurobiological theories posit that schizophrenia relates to disturbances in connectivity between brain regions. Resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging is a powerful tool for examining functional connectivity and has revealed several canonical brain networks, including the default mode, dorsal attention, executive control, and salience networks. The purpose of this study was to examine changes in these networks in schizophrenia. 42 patients with schizophrenia and 61 healthy subjects completed a RS-fMRI scanning session. Seed-based region-of-interest correlation analysis was used to identify the default mode, dorsal attention, executive control, and salience networks. Compared to healthy subjects, individuals with schizophrenia demonstrated greater connectivity between the posterior cingulate cortex, a key hub of the default mode, and the left inferior gyrus, left middle frontal gyrus, and left middle temporal gyrus. Interestingly, these regions were more strongly connected to the executive control network in healthy control subjects. In contrast to the default mode, patients demonstrated less connectivity in the executive control and dorsal attention networks. No differences were observed in the salience network. The results indicate that resting-state networks are differentially affected in schizophrenia. The alterations are characterized by reduced segregation between the default mode and executive control networks in the prefrontal cortex and temporal lobe, and reduced connectivity in the dorsal attention and executive control networks. The changes suggest that the process of functional specialization is altered in schizophrenia. Further work is needed to determine if the alterations are related to disturbances in white matter connectivity, neurodevelopmental abnormalities, and genetic risk for schizophrenia.
Schizophrenia; Resting-state; fMRI; Default Mode; Dorsal Attention; Executive Control
Apolipoprotein E-ε4 (APOE-ε4) accentuates memory decline, structural volume loss and cerebral amyloid deposition in cognitively healthy adults. We investigated whether APOE-ε4 carriers will show disruptions in the intrinsic cognitive networks, including the default mode (DMN), executive control (ECN) and salience (SN) networks, relative to noncarriers in middle-aged healthy adults; and the extent to which episodic-memory performance is related to the altered functional connectivity (Fc) in these networks. Resting-state functional connectivity MRI (R-fMRI) was used to measure the differences in the DMN, ECN and SN Fc between 20 APOE-ε4 carriers and 26 noncarriers. Multiple linear regression analyses were performed to determine the relationship between episodic-memory performance and Fc differences in the three resting-state networks across all subjects. There were no significant differences in the demographic and neuropsychological characteristics and the gray-matter volumes in the carriers and noncarriers. While mostly diminished DMN and ECN functional connectivities were seen, enhanced connections to the DMN structures were found in the SN in ε4 carriers. Altered DMN and ECN were associated with episodic memory performance. Significant Fc differences in the brain networks implicated in cognition were seen in middle-aged individuals with a genetic risk for AD, in the absence of cognitive decline and gray-matter atrophy. Prospective studies are essential to elucidate the potential of R-fMRI technique as a biomarker for predicting conversion from normal to early AD in healthy APOE-ε4 carriers.
Functional neuroimaging studies provide converging evidence for existence of intrinsic brain networks activated during resting states and deactivated with selective cognitive demands. Whether task-related deactivation of the default mode network signifies depressed activity relative to the remaining brain or simply lower activity relative to its resting state remains controversial. We employed 3D arterial spin labeling imaging to examine regional cerebral blood flow (CBF) during rest, a spatial working memory task, and a second rest. Change in regional CBF from rest to task showed significant normalized and absolute CBF reductions in posterior cingulate, posterior-inferior precuneus, and medial frontal lobes . A Statistical Parametric Mapping connectivity analysis, with an a priori seed in the posterior cingulate cortex, produced deactivation connectivity patterns consistent with the classic “default mode network” and activation connectivity anatomically consistent with engagement in visuospatial tasks. The large task-related CBF decrease in posterior-inferior precuneus relative to its anterior and middle portions adds evidence for the precuneus' heterogeneity. The posterior cingulate and posterior-inferior precuneus were also regions of the highest CBF at rest and during task performance. The difference in regional CBF between intrinsic (resting) and evoked (task) activity levels may represent functional readiness or reserve vulnerable to diminution by conditions affecting perfusion.
ASL; cerebral blood flow; cingulate; default mode network; precuneus
Offspring whose parents have Alzheimer’s disease (AD) are at increased risk for developing dementia. Patients with AD typically exhibit disruptions in the default mode network (DMN). The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of a family history of late-onset AD on DMN integrity in cognitively normal individuals. In particular, we determined whether a family history effect is detectable in apolipoprotein E (APOE) ε4 allele non-carriers.
We studied a cohort of 348 cognitively normal participants with or without family history of late-onset AD. DMN integrity was assessed by resting state functional connectivity magnetic resonance imaging.
A family history of late-onset AD was associated with reduced resting state functional connectivity between particular nodes of the DMN, namely the posterior cingulate and medial temporal cortex. The observed functional connectivity reduction was not attributable to medial temporal structural atrophy. Importantly, we detected a family history effect on DMN functional connectivity in APOE ε4 allele non-carriers.
Unknown genetic factors, embodied in a family history of late-onset AD, may affect DMN integrity prior to cognitive impairment.
Working memory processing and resting-state connectivity in the default mode network are altered in patients with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Because the ability to effortlessly switch between concentration on a task and an idling state during rest is implicated in both these alterations, we undertook a functional magnetic resonance imaging study with a block design to analyze task-induced modulations in connectivity.
We performed a working memory task and psychophysiologic interaction analyses with the posterior cingulate cortex and the medial prefrontal cortex as seed regions during fixation in 12 patients with severe, chronic PTSD and 12 healthy controls.
During the working memory task, the control group showed significantly stronger connectivity with areas implicated in the salience and executive networks, including the right inferior frontal gyrus and the right inferior parietal lobule. The PTSD group showed stronger connectivity with areas implicated in the default mode network, namely enhanced connectivity between the posterior cingulate cortex and the right superior frontal gyrus and between the medial prefrontal cortex and the left parahip-pocampal gyrus.
Because we were studying alterations in patients with severe, chronic PTSD, we could not exclude patients taking medication. The small sample size may have limited the power of our analyses. To avoid multiple testing in a small sample, we only used 2 seed regions for our analyses.
The different patterns of connectivity imply significant group differences with task-induced switches (i.e., engaging and disengaging the default mode network and the central-executive network).
There is substantial overlap between the brain regions supporting episodic memory and the default network. However, in humans the impact of bilateral medial temporal lobe (MTL) damage on a large-scale neural network such as the default mode network is unknown. To examine this issue, resting functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was performed with amnesic patients and control participants. Seed-based functional connectivity analyses revealed robust default network connectivity in amnesia in cortical default network regions such as medial prefrontal cortex, posterior medial cortex, and lateral parietal cortex, as well as evidence of connectivity to residual MTL tissue. Relative to control participants, decreased posterior cingulate cortex connectivity to MTL and increased connectivity to cortical default network regions including lateral parietal and medial prefrontal cortex was observed in amnesia. In contrast, somatomotor network connectivity was intact in amnesia, indicating bilateral MTL lesions may selectively impact the default network. Changes in default network connectivity in amnesia were largely restricted to the MTL subsystem, providing preliminary support from MTL amnesic patients that the default network can be fractionated into functionally and structurally distinct components. To our knowledge, this is the first examination of the default network in amnesia.
fMRI; default mode network; amnesia; episodic memory; hippocampus; prefrontal cortex; posterior cingulate; parietal lobe; diaschisis
Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are associated with disturbances of neural connectivity. Functional connectivity between neural structures is typically examined within the context of a cognitive task, but also exists in the absence of a task (i.e., “rest”). Connectivity during rest is particularly active in a set of structures called the default network, which includes the posterior cingulate cortex (PCC), retrosplenial cortex, lateral parietal cortex/angular gyrus, medial prefrontal cortex, superior frontal gyrus, temporal lobe, and parahippocampal gyrus. We previously reported that adults with ASD relative to controls show areas of stronger and weaker connectivity within the default network. The objective of the present study was to examine the default network in adolescents with ASD. Sixteen adolescents with ASD and 15 controls participated in a functional MRI study. Functional connectivity was examined between a PCC seed and other areas of the default network. Both groups showed connectivity in the default network. Relative to controls, adolescents with ASD showed widespread weaker connectivity in nine of the eleven areas of the default network. Moreover, an analysis of symptom severity indicated that poorer social skills and increases in restricted and repetitive behaviors and interests correlated with weaker connectivity, whereas poorer verbal and non-verbal communication correlated with stronger connectivity in multiple areas of the default network. These findings indicate that adolescents with ASD show weaker connectivity in the default network than previously reported in adults with ASD. The findings also show that weaker connectivity within the default network is associated with specific impairments in ASD.
Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging; development; symptom severity; Asperger’s syndrome; pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified
The posteromedial cortices and other regions of the “default network” are particularly vulnerable to the pathology of Alzheimer disease (AD). In this study, we performed fMRI to investigate whether the presence of apolipoprotein E (APOE) ε4 allele and degree of memory impairment were associated with dysfunction of these brain regions. Seventy-five elderly subjects ranging from cognitively normal to mild AD, divided into ε4 carriers and non-carriers, underwent fMRI during a memory encoding task. Across all subjects, posteromedial and ventral anterior cingulate cortices (key components of the default network) as well as right middle and inferior prefrontal regions demonstrated reduced task-induced deactivation in the ε4 carriers relative to non-carriers. Even among cognitively normal subjects, ε4 carriers demonstrated reduced posteromedial deactivation compared to non-carriers, in the same regions which demonstrated failure of deactivation in AD patients. Greater failure of posteromedial deactivation was related to worse memory performance (delayed recall) across all subjects and within the range of cognitively normal subjects. In summary, the posteromedial cortical fMRI response pattern is modulated both by the presence of APOE ε4 and episodic memory capability. Altered fMRI activity of the posteromedial areas of the brain default network may be an early indicator of risk for AD.
Alzheimer disease; apolipoprotein E (APOE); cognitive aging; functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI); mild cognitive impairment (MCI); memory
Individuals at ultra-high risk (UHR) for psychosis have self-disturbances and deficits in social cognition and functioning. Midline default network areas, including the medial prefrontal cortex and posterior cingulate cortex, are implicated in self-referential and social cognitive tasks. Thus, the neural substrates within the default mode network (DMN) have the potential to mediate self-referential and social cognitive information processing in UHR subjects.
This study utilized functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to investigate resting-state DMN and task-related network (TRN) functional connectivity in 19 UHR subjects and 20 matched healthy controls. The bilateral posterior cingulate cortex was selected as a seed region, and the intrinsic organization for all subjects was reconstructed on the basis of fMRI time series correlation.
Default mode areas included the posterior/anterior cingulate cortices, the medial prefrontal cortex, the lateral parietal cortex, and the inferior temporal region. Task-related network areas included the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, supplementary motor area, the inferior parietal lobule, and middle temporal cortex. Compared to healthy controls, UHR subjects exhibit hyperconnectivity within the default network regions and reduced anti-correlations (or negative correlations nearer to zero) between the posterior cingulate cortex and task-related areas.
These findings suggest that abnormal resting-state network activity may be related with the clinical features of UHR subjects. Neurodevelopmental and anatomical alterations of cortical midline structure might underlie altered intrinsic networks in UHR subjects.
We examined whether the effect of APOE genotype on functional brain connectivity is modulated by gender in healthy older human adults. Our results confirm significantly decreased connectivity in the default mode network in healthy older APOE ε4 carriers compared to ε3 homozygotes. More importantly, further testing revealed a significant interaction between APOE genotype and gender in the precuneus, a major default mode hub. Female ε4 carriers showed significantly reduced default mode connectivity compared to either female ε3 homozygotes or male ε4 carriers, whereas male ε4 carriers differed minimally from male ε3 homozygotes. An additional analysis in an independent sample of healthy elderly using an independent marker of Alzheimer’s disease, i.e. spinal fluid levels of tau, provided corresponding evidence for this gender by APOE interaction. Taken together, these results converge with previous work showing a higher prevalence of the ε4 allele among women with Alzheimer’s disease and, critically, demonstrate that this interaction between APOE genotype and gender is detectable in the preclinical period.
Numerous studies have demonstrated the higher-order functions of the cerebellum, including emotion regulation and cognitive processing, and have indicated that the cerebellum should therefore be included in the pathophysiological models of major depressive disorder. The aim of this study was to compare the resting-state functional connectivity of the cerebellum in adults with major depression and healthy controls.
Twenty adults with major depression and 20 gender-, age-, and education-matched controls were investigated using seed-based resting-state functional connectivity magnetic resonance imaging.
Compared with the controls, depressed patients showed significantly increased functional connectivity between the cerebellum and the temporal poles. However, significantly reduced cerebellar functional connectivity was observed in the patient group in relation to both the default-mode network, mainly including the ventromedial prefrontal cortex and the posterior cingulate cortex/precuneus, and the executive control network, mainly including the superior frontal cortex and orbitofrontal cortex. Moreover, the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale score was negatively correlated with the functional connectivity between the bilateral Lobule VIIb and the right superior frontal gyrus in depressed patients.
This study demonstrated increased cerebellar coupling with the temporal poles and reduced coupling with the regions in the default-mode and executive control networks in adults with major depression. These differences between patients and controls could be associated with the emotional disturbances and cognitive control function deficits that accompany major depression. Aberrant cerebellar connectivity during major depression may also imply a substantial role for the cerebellum in the pathophysiological models of depression.
In the past decade, a “default mode network” (DMN) has been highlighted in neuroimaging studies as a set of brain regions showing increased activity in task-free state compared to cognitively demanding task, and synchronized activity at rest. Changes within this network have been described in healthy aging as well as in Alzheimer's disease (AD) and populations at risk for AD, that is, amnestic Mild Cognitive Impairment (aMCI) patients and APOE-ε4 carriers. This is of particular interest in the context of early diagnosis and more generally for our understanding of the physiopathological mechanisms of AD. This paper gives an overview of the anatomical and physiological characteristics of this network as well as its relationships with cognition, before focusing on changes in the DMN over normal aging and Alzheimer's disease. While perturbations of the DMN have been consistently reported, especially within the posterior cingulate, further studies are needed to understand their clinical implication.
Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) impact social functioning and communication, and individuals with these disorders often have restrictive and repetitive behaviors. Accumulating data indicate that ASD is associated with alterations of neural circuitry. Functional MRI (FMRI) studies have focused on connectivity in the context of psychological tasks. However, even in the absence of a task, the brain exhibits a high degree of functional connectivity, known as intrinsic or resting connectivity. Notably, the default network, which includes the posterior cingulate cortex, retro-splenial, lateral parietal cortex/angular gyrus, medial prefrontal cortex, superior frontal gyrus, temporal lobe, and parahippocampal gyrus, is strongly active when there is no task. Altered intrinsic connectivity within the default network may underlie offline processing that may actuate ASD impairments. Using FMRI, we sought to evaluate intrinsic connectivity within the default network in ASD. Relative to controls, the ASD group showed weaker connectivity between the posterior cingulate cortex and superior frontal gyrus and stronger connectivity between the posterior cingulate cortex and both the right temporal lobe and right parahippocampal gyrus. Moreover, poorer social functioning in the ASD group was correlated with weaker connectivity between the posterior cingulate cortex and the superior frontal gyrus. In addition, more severe restricted and repetitive behaviors in ASD were correlated with stronger connectivity between the posterior cingulate cortex and right parahippocampal gyrus. These findings indicate that ASD subjects show altered intrinsic connectivity within the default network, and connectivity between these structures is associated with specific ASD symptoms.
Functional networks are usually accessed with “resting-state” functional magnetic resonance imaging using preselected “seeds” regions. Frequently, however, the selection of the seed locations is arbitrary. Recently, we proposed local functional connectivity density mapping (FCDM), an ultrafast data-driven to locate highly connected brain regions (functional hubs). Here, we used the functional hubs obtained from local FCDM to determine the functional networks of the resting state in 979 healthy subjects without a priori hypotheses on seed locations. In addition, we computed the global functional connectivity hubs. Seven networks covering 80% of the gray matter volume were identified. Four major cortical hubs (ventral precuneus/posterior cingulate, inferior parietal cortex, cuneus, and postcentral gyrus) were linked to 4 cortical networks (default mode, dorsal attention, visual, and somatosensory). Three subcortical networks were associated to the major subcortical hubs (cerebellum, thalamus, and amygdala). The networks differed in their resting activity and topology. The higher coupling and overlap of subcortical networks was associated to higher contribution of short-range functional connectivity in thalamus and cerebellum. Whereas cortical local FCD hubs were also hubs of long-range connectivity, which corroborates the key role of cortical hubs in network architecture, subcortical hubs had minimal long-range connectivity. The significant variability among functional networks may underlie their sensitivity/resilience to neuropathology.
functional connectivity; 1000 functional connectomes
The default mode network (DMN) has recently attracted widespread interest. Previous studies have found that task-related processing can induce deactivation and changes in the functional connectivity of this network. However, it remains unclear how tasks modulate the underlying effective connectivity within the DMN. Using recent advances in dynamic causal modeling (DCM), we investigated the modulatory effect of (gender judgment) task performance on directed connectivity within the DMN. Sixteen healthy subjects were scanned twice: at rest and while performing a gender judgment task. Group independent component analysis was used to identify independent spatial components. Four subject-specific regions of interest (ROIs) were defined according to the ensuing default mode component: the posterior cingulate cortex, the left lateral parietal cortex, the right lateral parietal cortex, and the medial prefrontal cortex. Effective connectivity among these regions was then characterized with stochastic DCM, revealing enhanced (extrinsic) between region connectivity within the DMN during task sessions – and a universal decrease in (intrinsic) self-inhibition – relative to resting sessions. These results suggest a distributed but systematic modulatory effect of cognitive and attentional set on the effective connectivity subtending the DMN: an effect that increases its sensitivity to inputs and may optimize distributed processing during task performance.
default mode network; effective connectivity; stochastic dynamic causal modeling; independent component analysis; functional magnetic resonance imaging
Previous MRI studies of functional connectivity in pre-symptomatic mutation carriers of Huntington’s disease (HD) have shown dysfunction of the Default-Mode Network (DMN). No data however are currently available on the DMN alterations in the symptomatic stages of the disease, which are characterized by cortical atrophy involving several DMN nodes. We assessed DMN integrity and its possible correlations with motor and cognitive symptoms in 26 symptomatic HD patients as compared to 22 normal volunteers, by analyzing resting state functional MRI data, using the Precuneal Cortex/Posterior Cingulate Cortices (PC/PCC) as seed, controlling at voxel level for the effect of atrophy by co-varying for gray matter volume. Direct correlation with PC/PCC was decreased, without correlation with atrophy, in the ventral medial prefrontal cortex (including anterior cingulate and subgenual cortex), right dorso-medial prefrontal cortex, and in the right inferior parietal cortex (mainly involving the angular gyrus). Negative correlations with PC/PCC were decreased bilaterally in the inferior parietal cortices, while a cluster in the right middle occipital gyrus presented increased correlation with PC/PCC. DMN changes in the ventral medial prefrontal cortex significantly correlated with the performance at the Stroop test (p = .0002). Widespread DMN changes, not correlating with the atrophy of the involved nodes, are present in symptomatic HD patients, and correlate with cognitive disturbances.
The default mode network (DMN) is a functional network which is implicated in a range of cognitive processes. This network is proposed to consist of hubs located in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC), posterior cingulate/retrosplenial cortex (PCC/rSpl), and inferior parietal lobule (IPL), with other midline cortical and temporal lobe nodes connected to these hubs. How this network is modulated by neurochemical systems during functional brain activity is not yet understood.
In the present study, we used the norepinephrine/dopamine transporter inhibitor modafinil to test the hypothesis that this drug modulates the DMN.
Eighteen healthy right-handed adults participated in a double-blind, placebo-controlled study of single oral dose modafinil 200 mg. They performed a simple visual sensorimotor task during slow event-related fMRI. Drug effects were interrogated within the DMN defined by task-induced deactivation (TID) on placebo.
There was a trend toward faster reaction time (RT) on modafinil (Cohen’s d = 0.38). Brain regions within the DMN which exhibited significant modafinil-induced augmentation of TID included vmPFC, PCC/rSpl, and left IPL. Across subjects, the modafinil effect on TID in the vmPFC was significantly and specifically associated with drug effects on RT speeding.
Modafinil augments TID in the DMN to facilitate sensorimotor processing speed, an effect which may be particularly dependent on changes in vmPFC activity. This is consistent with the gain control function of catecholamine systems and may represent an important aspect of the pro-cognitive effects of modafinil.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00213-010-2111-5) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Catecholamines; Default mode network; Modafinil; Task-induced deactivation; Gain control; Negative BOLD response
The default mode network (DMN), based in ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) and posterior cingulate cortex (PCC), exhibits higher metabolic activity at rest than during performance of externally-oriented cognitive tasks. Recent studies have suggested that competitive relationships between the DMN and various task-positive networks involved in task performance are intrinsically represented in the brain in the form of strong negative correlations (anticorrelations) between spontaneous fluctuations in these networks. Most neuroimaging studies characterize the DMN as a homogenous network, thus few have examined the differential contributions of DMN components to such competitive relationships. Here we examined functional differentiation within the default mode network, with an emphasis on understanding competitive relationships between this and other networks. We used a seed correlation approach on resting-state data to assess differences in functional connectivity between these two regions and their anticorrelated networks. While the positively correlated networks for the vmPFC and PCC seeds largely overlapped, the anticorrelated networks for each showed striking differences. Activity in vmPFC negatively predicted activity in parietal visual spatial and temporal attention networks, whereas activity in PCC negatively predicted activity in prefrontal-based motor control circuits. Granger causality analyses suggest that vmPFC and PCC exert greater influence on their anticorrelated networks than the other way around, suggesting that these two default mode nodes may directly modulate activity in task-positive networks. Thus, the two major nodes comprising the default mode network are differentiated with respect to the specific brain systems with which they interact, suggesting greater heterogeneity within this network than is commonly appreciated.
fMRI; resting state network; ventromedial prefrontal cortex; posterior cingulate; precuneus; Granger causality; effective connectivity; attention; self; social cognition
A number of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies reported the existence of default mode network (DMN) and its disruption due to the presence of a disease such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD). In this current investigation, firstly, we used the independent component analysis (ICA) technique to confirm the DMN difference between patients with AD and normal control (NC) reported in previous studies. Consistent with previous studies, the decreased resting-state functional connectivity of DMN in AD was identified in posterior cingulated cortex (PCC), medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC), inferior parietal cortex (IPC), inferior temporal cortex (ITC) and hippocampus (HC). Moreover, we introduced Bayesian Network (BN) to study the effective connectivity of DMN and the difference between AD and NC. Compared the DMN effective connectivity in AD to the one in NC using a non-parametric random permutation test, we found that connections from left HC to left IPC, left ITC to right HC, right HC to left IPC, to MPFC and to PCC were all lost. In addition, in AD group, the connection directions between right HC and left HC, between left HC and left ITC, and between right IPC and right ITC were opposite to those in NC group. The connections of right HC to other regions, except left HC, within the BN were all statistically in-distinguishable from 0, suggesting an increased right hippocampal pathological and functional burden in AD. The altered effective connectivity in patients with AD may reveal more characteristics of the disease and may serve as a potential biomarker.
biomarker; effective connectivity; functional connectivity; resting state; fMRI
Abnormalities have been identified in the Cognitive Control Network (CCN) and the default mode network (DMN) during episodes of late-life depression. This study examined whether functional connectivity at rest (FC) within these networks characterize late-life depression and predict antidepressant response.
26 non-demented, non-MCI older adults were studied. Of these, 16 had major depression and 10 had no psychopathology. Depressed patients were treated with escitalopram (target dose 20 mg) for 12 weeks after a 2-week placebo phase. Resting state timeseries was determined prior to treatment. FC within the CCN was determined by placing seeds in the dACC and the DLPFC bilaterally. FC within the DMN was assessed from a seed placed in the posterior cingulate.
Low resting state FC within the CCN and high FC within the DMN distinguished depressed from normal elderly subjects. Beyond this “double dissociation”, low resting state FC within the CCN predicted low remission rate and persistence of depressive symptoms and signs, apathy, and dysexecutive behavior after treatment with escitalopram. In contrast, resting state FC within the DMN was correlated with pessimism but did not predict treatment response.
If confirmed, these findings may serve as a signature of the brain’s functional topography characterizing late-life depression and sustaining its symptoms. By identifying the network abnormalities underlying biologically meaningful characteristics (apathy, dysexecutive behavior, pessimism) and sustaining late-life depression, these findings can provide a novel target on which new somatic and psychosocial treatments can be tested.
Recent neuroimaging studies have shown that several brain regions -- namely, the posterior cingulate cortex (PCC), ventral medial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC), and the bilateral angular gyrus -- are more active during resting states than during cognitive tasks (i.e., default mode network). Although there is evidence showing that the default mode network is associated with unconscious state, it is unclear whether this network is associated with unconscious processing when normal human subjects perform tasks without awareness. We manipulated the level of conscious processing in normal subjects by asking them to perform an implicit and an explicit memory task, and analyzed signal changes in the default mode network for the stimuli versus baseline in both tasks. The fMRI analysis showed that the level of activation in regions within this network during the implicit task was not significantly different from that during the baseline, except in the left angular gyrus and the insula. There was strong deactivation for the explicit task when compared with the implicit task in the default mode regions, except in the left angular gyrus and the left middle temporal gyrus. These data suggest that the activity in the default network is sustained and less disrupted when an implicit memory task is performed, but is suspended when explicit retrieval is required. These results provide evidence that the default mode network is associated with unconscious processing when human subjects perform an implicit memory task.
default mode network; unconscious processing; implicit memory
This fMRI study investigated the functional heterogeneity of the core nodes of the default mode network (DMN) during language processing. The core nodes of the DMN were defined as task-induced deactivations over multiple tasks in 94 healthy subjects. We used a factorial design that manipulated different tasks (semantic matching or speech production) and stimuli (familiar words and objects or unfamiliar stimuli), alternating with periods of fixation/rest. Our findings revealed several consistent effects in the DMN, namely less deactivations in the left inferior parietal lobule during semantic than perceptual matching in parallel with greater deactivations during semantic matching in anterior subdivisions of the posterior cingulate cortex (PCC) and the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (MPFC). This suggests that, when the brain is engaged in effortful semantic tasks, a part of the DMN in the left angular gyrus was less deactivated as five other nodes of the DMN were more deactivated. These five DMN areas, where deactivation was greater for semantic than perceptual matching, were further differentiated because deactivation was greater in (i) posterior ventral MPFC for speech production relative to semantic matching, (ii) posterior precuneus and PCC for perceptual processing relative to speech production, and (iii) right inferior parietal cortex for pictures of objects relative to written words during both naming and semantic decisions. Our results thus highlight that task difficulty alone cannot fully explain the functional variability in task-induced deactivations. Together these results emphasize that core nodes within the DMN are functionally heterogeneous and differentially sensitive to the type of language processing.
functional MRI; language; semantic decisions; speech production; default network; words and objects
The ‘default network’ is defined as a set of areas, encompassing posterior-cingulate/precuneus, anterior cingulate/mesiofrontal cortex and temporo-parietal junctions, that show more activity at rest than during attention-demanding tasks. Recent studies have shown that it is possible to reliably identify this network in the absence of any task, by resting state functional magnetic resonance imaging connectivity analyses in healthy volunteers. However, the functional significance of these spontaneous brain activity fluctuations remains unclear. The aim of this study was to test if the integrity of this resting-state connectivity pattern in the default network would differ in different pathological alterations of consciousness. Fourteen non-communicative brain-damaged patients and 14 healthy controls participated in the study. Connectivity was investigated using probabilistic independent component analysis, and an automated template-matching component selection approach. Connectivity in all default network areas was found to be negatively correlated with the degree of clinical consciousness impairment, ranging from healthy controls and locked-in syndrome to minimally conscious, vegetative then coma patients. Furthermore, precuneus connectivity was found to be significantly stronger in minimally conscious patients as compared with unconscious patients. Locked-in syndrome patient’s default network connectivity was not significantly different from controls. Our results show that default network connectivity is decreased in severely brain-damaged patients, in proportion to their degree of consciousness impairment. Future prospective studies in a larger patient population are needed in order to evaluate the prognostic value of the presented methodology.
Default mode; fMRI; coma; vegetative state; minimally conscious state
Altered functional characteristics have been reported in amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI) and Alzheimer’s disease (AD); nonetheless, comprehensive analyses of the resting-state networks (RSNs) are rare. This study combined multiple imaging modalities to investigate the functional and structural changes within each RSN and between RSNs in aMCI/AD patients. Eight RSNs were identified from functional MRI data from 35 AD, 18 aMCI and 21 normal control subjects using independent component analysis. We compared functional connectivity (FC) within each RSN and found decreased FC in the several cognitive-related RSNs in AD, including the bilateral precuneus of the precuneus network, the posterior cingulate cortex and left precuneus of the posterior default mode network (DMN), and the left superior parietal lobule of the left frontoparietal network (LFP). We further compared the grey matter volumes and amplitudes of low-frequency fluctuations of these regions and found decreases in these measures in AD. Importantly, we found decreased inter-network connectivity between the visual network and the LFP and between the anterior and posterior DMNs in AD. All indices in aMCI patients were numerically between those of controls and AD patients. These results suggest that the brain networks supporting complex cognitive processes are specifically and progressively impaired over the course of AD, and the FC impairments are present not only within networks but also between networks.