Neuroimaging studies have identified two major large-scale brain networks, the default mode network (DMN) and the dorsal attention network (DAN), which are engaged for internally and externally directed cognitive tasks respectively, and which show anticorrelated activity during cognitively demanding tests and at rest. We identified these brain networks using independent component analysis (ICA) of functional magnetic resonance imaging data, and examined their interactions during the free-recall task, a self-initiated memory search task in which retrieval is performed in the absence of external cues. Despite the internally directed nature of the task, the DAN showed transient engagement in the seconds leading up to successful retrieval. ICA revealed a fractionation of the DMN into 3 components. A posteromedial network increased engagement during memory search, while the two others showed suppressed activity during memory search. Cooperative interactions between this posteromedial network, a right-lateralized frontoparietal control network, and a medial prefrontal network were maintained during memory search. The DAN demonstrated heterogeneous task-dependent shifts in functional coupling with various subnetworks within the DMN. This functional reorganization suggests a broader role of the DAN in the absence of externally directed cognition, and highlights the contribution of the posteromedial network to episodic retrieval.
Keywords: DMN; episodic memory; fMRI; free recall; functional connectivity.
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