Default-mode brain dysfunction in mental disorders: a systematic review

Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2009 Mar;33(3):279-96. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2008.09.002. Epub 2008 Sep 9.


In this review we are concerned specifically with the putative role of the default-mode network (DMN) in the pathophysiology of mental disorders. First, we define the DMN concept with regard to its neuro-anatomy, its functional organisation through low frequency neuronal oscillations, its relation to other recently discovered low frequency resting state networks, and the cognitive functions it is thought to serve. Second, we introduce methodological and analytical issues and challenges. Third, we describe putative mechanisms proposed to link DMN abnormalities and mental disorders. These include interference by network activity during task performance, altered patterns of antagonism between task specific and non-specific elements, altered connectively and integrity of the DMN, and altered psychological functions served by the network DMN. Fourth, we review the empirical literature systematically. We relate DMN dysfunction to dementia, schizophrenia, epilepsy, anxiety and depression, autism and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder drawing out common and unique elements of the disorders. Finally, we provide an integrative overview and highlight important challenges and tasks for future research.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain / physiopathology*
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Electroencephalography
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Magnetoencephalography
  • Mental Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Models, Neurological*