January 27, 2021

The Coherent Default Mode Network is not involved in Episodic Recall or Social Cognition

Resting-state network research is extremely influential, yet the functions of many networks remain unknown. Hypotheses implicating the default mode network (DMN) in episodic memory and social cognition are highly popular. Univariate analyses and meta-analyses of these functions show activation in similar regions to the DMN. However, this does not necessitate the involvement of the coherent network in these functions. Here we formally test the role of the coherent DMN in episodic and social processing. As well as an episodic retrieval task, two independent datasets were employed to assess the breadth of social cognition; a person knowledge judgement and a theory of mind task. Independent component analysis separated each task dataset into coherent networks. For each, the core DMN was identified through comparison to an a priori template and its relation to the task model was assessed. The DMN did not show greater activity in episodic or social tasks than in high-level baseline conditions. Thus, no evidence was found for the involvement of the coherent DMN in explicit episodic or social processing tasks. The networks responsible for these processes are described and the univariate findings considered in light of these findings. Implications for the functional significance of the DMN are considered.

 bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience

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