Activation and Connectivity within the Default Mode Network Contribute Independently to Future-Oriented Thought

Sci Rep. 2016 Feb 12;6:21001. doi: 10.1038/srep21001.

Abstract

Future-oriented thought, a projection of the self into the future to pre-experience an event, has been linked to default mode network (DMN). Previous studies showed that the DMN was generally divided into two subsystems: anterior part (aDMN) and posterior part (pDMN). The former is mostly related to self-referential mental thought and latter engages in episodic memory retrieval and scene construction. However, functional contribution of these two subsystems and functional connectivity between them during future-oriented thought has rarely been reported. Here, we investigated these issues by using an experimental paradigm that allowed prospective, episodic decisions concerning one's future (Future Self) to be compared with self-referential decisions about one's immediate present state (Present Self). Additionally, two parallel control conditions that relied on non-personal semantic knowledge (Future Non-Self Control and Present Non-Self Control) were conducted. Our results revealed that the aDMN was preferentially activated when participants reflected on their present states, whereas the pDMN exhibited preferentially activation when participants reflected on their personal future. Intriguingly, significantly decreased aDMN-pDMN connectivity was observed when thinking about their future relative to other conditions. These results support the notion that activation within these subsystems and connectivity between them contribute differently to future-oriented thought.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Comprehension / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Self-Assessment*