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Can the Default-Mode Network Be Described with One Spatial-Covariance Network?

Habeck, Christian G.; Steffener, Jason; Rakitin, Brian C.; Stern, Yaakov

The default-mode network (DMN) has become a well accepted concept in cognitive and clinical neuroscience over the last decade, and perusal of the recent literature attests to a stimulating research field of cognitive and diagnostic applications (for example, (Andrews-Hanna et al., 2010; Koch et al., 2010; Sheline et al., 2009a; Sheline et al., 2009b; Uddin et al., 2008; Uddin et al., 2009; Weng et al., 2009; Yan et al., 2009)). However, a formal definition of what exactly constitutes a functional brain network is difficult to come by. In recent contributions, some researchers argue that the DMN is best understood as multiple interacting subsystems (Buckner et al., 2008) and have explored modular components of the DMN that have different functional specialization and could to some extent be identified separately (Fox et al., 2005; Uddin et al., 2009). Such conception of modularity seems to imply an opposite construct of a 'unified whole', but it is difficult to locate proponents of the idea of a DMN who are supplying constraints that can be brought to bear on data in rigorous tests. Our aim in this paper is to present a principled way of deriving a single covariance pattern as the neural substrate of the DMN, test to what extent its behavior tracks the coupling strength between critical seed regions, and investigate to what extent our stricter concept of a network is consistent with the already established findings about the DMN in the literature. We show that our approach leads to a functional covariance pattern whose pattern scores are a good proxy for the integrity of the connections between a medioprefrontal, posterior cingulate and parietal seed regions. Our derived DMN network thus has potential for diagnostic applications that are simpler to perform than computation of pairwise correlational strengths or seed maps.


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February 22, 2018