The brain's default network and its adaptive role in internal mentation

Neuroscientist. 2012 Jun;18(3):251-70. doi: 10.1177/1073858411403316. Epub 2011 Jun 15.


During the many idle moments that comprise daily life, the human brain increases its activity across a set of midline and lateral cortical brain regions known as the "default network." Despite the robustness with which the brain defaults to this pattern of activity, surprisingly little is known about the network's precise anatomical organization and adaptive functions. To provide insight into these questions, this article synthesizes recent literature from structural and functional imaging with a growing behavioral literature on mind wandering. Results characterize the default network as a set of interacting hubs and subsystems that play an important role in "internal mentation"-the introspective and adaptive mental activities in which humans spontaneously and deliberately engage in every day.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological / physiology*
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Executive Function / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Mental Processes / physiology*
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Psychophysiology