Recovery of the default mode network after demanding neurofeedback training occurs in spatio-temporally segregated subnetworks
The default mode (DM) network is a major large-scale cerebral network that can be identified with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) during resting state. Most studies consider functional connectivity networks as stationary phenomena. Consequently, the transient behavior of the DM network and its subnetworks is still largely unexplored. Most functional connectivity fMRI studies assess the steady state of resting without any task. To specifically investigate the recovery of the DM network during the transition from activation to rest, we implemented a cognitively demanding real-time fMRI neurofeedback task that targeted down-regulation of the primary auditory cortex. Each of twelve healthy subjects performed 16 block-design fMRI runs (4 runs per day repeated on 4 days) resulting 192 runs in total. The analysis included data-driven independent component analysis (ICA) and high-resolution latency estimation between the four components that corresponded to subnetworks of the DM network. These different subnetworks reemerged after regulation with an average time lag or 3.3 s and a time lag of 4.4 s between the first and fourth components; i.e., the DM recovery first shifts from anterior to posterior, and then gradually focuses on the ventral part of the posterior cingulate cortex, which is known to be implicated in internally directed cognition. In addition, we found less reactivation in the early anterior subnetwork as regulation strength increased, but more reactivation with larger regulation for the late subnetwork that encompassed the ventral PCC. This finding confirms that the level of task engagement influences inversely the subsequent recovery of regions related to attention compared to those related to internally directed cognition. (C) 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.