by Ben J. Harrison, Jesus Pujol, Oren Contreras-Rodríguez, Carles Soriano-Mas, Marina López-Solà, Joan Deus, Hector Ortiz, Laura Blanco-Hinojo, Pino Alonso, Rosa Hernández-Ribas, Narcís Cardoner, José M. Menchón
Activity decreases, or deactivations, of midline and parietal cortical brain regions are routinely observed in human functional neuroimaging studies that compare periods of task-based cognitive performance with passive states, such as rest. It is now widely held that such task-induced deactivations index a highly organized ‘default-mode network’ (DMN): a large-scale brain system whose discovery has had broad implications in the study of human brain function and behavior. In this work, we show that common task-induced deactivations from rest also occur outside of the DMN as a function of increased task demand. Fifty healthy adult subjects performed two distinct functional magnetic resonance imaging tasks that were designed to reliably map deactivations from a resting baseline. As primary findings, increases in task demand consistently modulated the regional anatomy of DMN deactivation. At high levels of task demand, robust deactivation was observed in non-DMN regions, most notably, the posterior insular cortex. Deactivation of this region was directly implicated in a performance-based analysis of experienced task difficulty. Together, these findings suggest that task-induced deactivations from rest are not limited to the DMN and extend to brain regions typically associated with integrative sensory and interoceptive processes.