Background: Early accounts of forced thought were reported at the onset of a focal seizure, and characterized as vague, repetitive, and involuntary intellectual auras distinct from perceptual or psychic hallucinations or illusions. Here, we examine the neural underpinnings involved in conceptual thought by presenting a series of 3 patients with epilepsy reporting intrusive thoughts during electrical stimulation of the left lateral prefrontal cortex (PFC) during invasive surgical evaluation. We illustrate the widespread networks involved through two independent brain imaging modalities: resting state functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) (rs-fMRI) and task-based meta-analytic connectivity modeling (MACM).
Methods: We report the clinical and stimulation characteristics of three patients with left hemispheric language dominance who demonstrate forced thought with functional mapping. To examine the brain networks underlying this phenomenon, we used the regions of interest (ROI) centered at the active electrode pairs. We modeled functional networks using two approaches: (1) rs-fMRI functional connectivity analysis, representing 81 healthy controls and (2) meta-analytic connectivity modeling (MACM), representing 8260 healthy subjects. We also determined the overlapping regions between these three subjects' rs-fMRI and MACM networks through a conjunction analysis.
Results: We identified that left PFC was associated with a large-scale functional network including frontal, temporal, and parietal regions, a network that has been associated with multiple cognitive functions including semantics, speech, attention, working memory, and explicit memory.
Conclusions: We illustrate the neural networks involved in conceptual thought through a unique patient population and argue that PFC supports this function through activation of a widespread network.
Keywords: Electric stimulation; Functional neuroimaging; Networks; Prefrontal cortex; Thought.
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