Brain Imaging and Behavior

, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 127–141 | Cite as

Modifications in resting state functional anticorrelation between default mode network and dorsal attention network: comparison among young adults, healthy elders and mild cognitive impairment patients

  • Roberto Esposito
  • Filippo Cieri
  • Piero Chiacchiaretta
  • Nicoletta Cera
  • Mariella Lauriola
  • Massimo Di Giannantonio
  • Armando Tartaro
  • Antonio Ferretti
Original Research


Resting state brain activity incorporates different components, including the Default Mode Network and the Dorsal Attention Network, also known as task-negative network and task-positive network respectively. These two networks typically show an anticorrelated activity during both spontaneous oscillations and task execution. However modifications of this anticorrelated activity pattern with age and pathology are still unclear. The present study aimed to investigate differences in resting state Default Mode Network-Dorsal Attention Network functional anticorrelation among young adults, healthy elders and Mild Cognitive Impairment patients. We retrospectively enrolled in this study 27 healthy young adults (age range: 25–35 y.o.; mean age: 28,5), 26 healthy elders (age range: 61–72 y.o.; mean age: 65,1) and 17 MCI patients (age range 64–87 y.o.; mean age: 73,6). Mild Cognitive Impairment patients were selected following Petersen criteria. All participants underwent neuropsychological evaluation and resting state functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging. Spontaneous anticorrelated activity between Default Mode Network and Dorsal Attention Network was observed in each group. This anticorrelation was significantly decreased with age in most Default Mode Network-Dorsal Attention Network connections (p < 0.001, False Discovery Rate corrected). Moreover, the anticorrelation between the posterior cingulate cortex node of the Default Mode Network and the right inferior parietal sulcus node of the Dorsal Attention Network was significantly decreased when comparing Mild Cognitive Impairment with normal elders (p < 0.001, False Discovery Rate corrected). The functional connectivity changes in patients were not related to significant differences in grey matter content. Our results suggest that a reduced anticorrelated activity between Default Mode Network and Dorsal Attention Network is part of the normal aging process and that Mild Cognitive Impairment status is associated with more evident inter-networks functional connectivity changes.


Aging Default mode network Dorsal attention network Mild cognitive impairment Resting state functional anticorrelations 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.

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. The study was approved by the Institutional and Ethics Committee of the University “G. d’Annunzio” of Chieti-Pescara (clinical trial registration number: 1711). All participants gave written informed consent to join the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Roberto Esposito
    • 1
    • 2
  • Filippo Cieri
    • 1
  • Piero Chiacchiaretta
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Nicoletta Cera
    • 4
  • Mariella Lauriola
    • 1
  • Massimo Di Giannantonio
    • 1
  • Armando Tartaro
    • 1
    • 2
  • Antonio Ferretti
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Neuroscience, Imaging and Clinical SciencesUniversity “G. d’Annunzio” of Chieti-PescaraChietiItaly
  2. 2.Institute for Advanced Biomedical TechnologiesUniversity “G. d’Annunzio” of Chieti-PescaraChietiItaly
  3. 3.Bioengineering UnitIRCCS NEUROMEDPozzilliItaly
  4. 4.Faculty of Psychology and Educational ScienceUniversity of PortoPortoPortugal

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