Brain Imaging and Behavior

, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp 666–676 | Cite as

Decoupling of reaction time-related default mode network activity with cognitive demand

  • Anita D. Barber
  • Brian S. Caffo
  • James J. Pekar
  • Stewart H. Mostofsky
Original Research


Reaction Time (RT) is associated with increased amplitude of the Blood Oxygen-Level Dependent (BOLD) response in task positive regions. Few studies have focused on whether opposing RT-related suppression of task activity also occurs. The current study used two Go/No-go tasks with different cognitive demands to examine regions that showed greater BOLD suppression for longer RT trials. These RT-related suppression effects occurred within the DMN and were task-specific, localizing to separate regions for the two tasks. In the task requiring working memory, RT-related de-coupling of the DMN occurred. This was reflected by opposing RT-BOLD effects for different DMN regions, as well as by reduced positive RT-related Psycho-Physiological Interaction (PPI) connectivity within the DMN and a lack of negative RT-related PPI connectivity between DMN and task positive regions. The results suggest that RT-related DMN suppression is task-specific. RT-related de-coupling of the DMN with more complex task demands may contribute to lapses of attention and performance decrements that occur during cognitively-demanding tasks.


Default mode network Reaction times Attention Anti-correlation 


Compliance with Ethical Standards


Funding for this research was provided by NIH R01 MH078160, R01 MH085328, R01 EB012547, and P41 EB015909.

Conflict of Interest

Dr. Pekar serves as Manager of the F.M. Kirby Research Center, which receives support from Philips Health Care, which makes the MRI scanners used in this study. None of the other authors have competing financial interests.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Supplementary material

11682_2016_9543_MOESM1_ESM.docx (224 kb)
Fig. S1 Total number of significant voxels and proportion of significant voxels within each network for the negative RT contrasts (top panels) and positive RT contrasts (bottom panels). Significance is assessed at a voxel-level threshold of p < 0.01 multiple comparisons-corrected at a cluster-level of p < 0.05. (DOCX 223 kb)
11682_2016_9543_MOESM2_ESM.docx (742 kb)
Fig. S2 Regions showing task differences in RT-related activity and overlap with the DMN. For task differences, significance is assessed at a voxel-level threshold of p < 0.01 for RT contrasts and multiple comparisons-corrected at a cluster-level of p < 0.05. (DOCX 742 kb)
11682_2016_9543_MOESM3_ESM.docx (90 kb)
Fig. S3 Total number of significant voxels and proportion of significant voxels within each network for RT-related task differences. Significance is assessed at a voxel-level threshold of p < 0.01 and multiple comparisons-corrected at a cluster-level of p < 0.05. (DOCX 90 kb)
11682_2016_9543_MOESM4_ESM.docx (206 kb)
Fig. S4 Total number of significant voxels and proportion of significant voxels within each network for MPFC-RT PPI Connectivity. Significance is assessed at a voxel-level threshold of p < 0.01 and multiple comparisons-corrected at a cluster-level of p < 0.05. (DOCX 205 kb)
11682_2016_9543_MOESM5_ESM.docx (22 kb)
Table S1 Regions with Significant Task Differences in RT-related Activity. The number of significant voxels that overlap with the DMN and the total number of significant voxels are displayed. (DOCX 21 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anita D. Barber
    • 1
  • Brian S. Caffo
    • 2
  • James J. Pekar
    • 3
    • 4
  • Stewart H. Mostofsky
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Feinstein Institute for Medical ResearchManhassetUSA
  2. 2.Johns Hopkins School of Public HealthBaltimoreUSA
  3. 3.Kennedy Krieger InstituteBaltimoreUSA
  4. 4.Johns Hopkins School of MedicineBaltimoreUSA

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