Description: Large-scale functional networks, as identified through the coordinated activity of spatially distributed brain regions, have become central objects of study in neuroscience because of their contributions to many processing domains. Yet, it remains unclear how these domain-general networks interact with focal brain regions to coordinate thought and action. Here, we investigated how the default-mode network (DMN) and executive control network (ECN), two networks associated with goal-directed behavior, shape task performance through their coupling with other cortical regions several seconds in advance of behavior. We measured these networks’ connectivity during an adaptation of the monetary incentive delay (MID) response-time task in which human participants viewed social and nonsocial images (i.e., pictures of faces and landscapes, respectively) while brain activity was measured using fMRI. We found that participants displayed slower reaction times (RTs) subsequent to social trials relative to nonsocial trials. To examine the neural mechanisms driving this subsequent-RT effect, we integrated independent components analysis (ICA) and a network-based psychophysiological interaction (nPPI) analysis; this allowed us to investigate task-related changes in network coupling that preceded the observed trial-to-trial variation in RT. Strikingly, when subjects viewed social rewards, an area of the fusiform gyrus (FG) consistent with the functionally-defined fusiform face area (FFA) exhibited increased coupling with the ECN (relative to the DMN), and the relative magnitude of coupling tracked the slowing of RT on the following trial. These results demonstrate how large-scale, domain-general networks can interact with focal, domain-specific cortical regions to orchestrate subsequent behavior.
Related article: http://doi.org/10.1523/ENEURO.0084-17.2017
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