Metabolic demands of the posteromedial default mode network are shaped by dorsal attention and frontoparietal control networks

GM Godbersen, S Klug, W Wadsak, V Pichler, J Raitanen, A Rieckmann, L Stiernman, L Cocchi, M Breakspear, M Hacker, R Lanzenberger, A Hahn

Although BOLD signal decreases in the default mode network (DMN) are commonly observed during attention-demanding tasks, their neurobiological underpinnings are not fully understood. Previous work has shown decreases but also increases in glucose metabolism that match with or dissociate from these BOLD signal decreases, respectively. To resolve this discrepancy, we analyzed functional PET/MRI data from 50 healthy subjects during the performance of the visuo-spatial processing game Tetris® and combined this with previously published data sets of working memory as well as visual and motor stimulation. Our findings show that the glucose metabolism of the posteromedial DMN is dependent on the metabolic demands of the correspondingly engaged task-positive brain networks. Specifically, the dorsal attention (involved in Tetris®) and frontoparietal networks (engaged during working memory) shape the glucose metabolism of the posteromedial DMN in opposing directions. External attention-demanding tasks lead to a downregulation of the posteromedial DMN with consistent decreases in the BOLD signal and glucose metabolism, whereas working memory is subject to metabolically expensive mechanisms of BOLD signal suppression. We suggest that the former finding is mediated by decreased glutamate signaling, while the latter results from active GABAergic inhibition, regulating the competition between self-generated and task-driven internal demands. The results demonstrate that the DMN relates to cognitive processing in a flexible manner and does not always act as a cohesive task-negative network in isolation.

External organisation(s)
Medizinische Universität Wien, Ludwig Boltzmann Intitute Applied Diagnostics, Umeå University, Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, University of Queensland, University of Newcastle
Publication date
Austrian Fields of Science 2012
301403 Neurochemistry
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