A default mode of brain function: a brief history of an evolving idea

Neuroimage. 2007 Oct 1;37(4):1083-90; discussion 1097-9. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2007.02.041. Epub 2007 Mar 6.


The concept of a default mode of brain function arose out of a focused need to explain the appearance of activity decreases in functional neuroimaging data when the control state was passive visual fixation or eyes closed resting. The problem was particularly compelling because these activity decreases were remarkably consistent across a wide variety of task conditions. Using PET, we determined that these activity decreases did not arise from activations in the resting state. Hence, their presence implied the existence of a default mode. While the unique constellation of brain areas provoking this analysis has come to be known as the default system, all areas of the brain have a high level of organized default functional activity. Most critically, this work has called attention to the importance of intrinsic functional activity in assessing brain behavior relationships.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Comment

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / anatomy & histology
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Fixation, Ocular / physiology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Oxygen / blood
  • Positron-Emission Tomography
  • Reference Standards
  • Vision, Ocular / physiology


  • Oxygen