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Original Research ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Psychol. | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.02198

The inter-regional connectivity within the default mode network during the attentional processes of internal focus and external focus: An fMRI study of continuous finger force feedback

 Zhi-Wei Zhou1, 2, 3,  Xia-Qing Lan1, 2, 3, Yan-Tong Fang2, 3, Yun Gong2, 3, Yu-Feng Zang1, 2, 3,  Hong Luo2, 3* and  Hang Zhang1, 2, 3*
  • 1Institutes of Psychological Sciences, Hangzhou Normal University, China
  • 2Center for Cognition and Brain Disorders, Hangzhou Normal University, China
  • 3Zhejiang Key Laboratory for Research in Assessment of Cognitive Impairments, China

Sustained attention involves two distinct processes, i.e., external focus and internal focus. Some recent neuroimaging studies employed the instruction of experimenters or the self-report from participants to generate the two attentional processes, and observed that the default mode network (DMN) was also responding to the external focus. These observations challenged the general view that the DMN accounts for the internally directed cognition, e.g., unfocused mind wandering, task independent-thoughts and internally focused events. Notably, the instruction or self-report may not effectively ensure the participants engage in the external focus/internal focus, and thus, the functional significance of the DMN for the externally focused process remains to be verified. In the present study, a new task paradigm, i.e., real/sham continuous feedback of finger force, was employed to generate the attentional process of external focus/internal focus, and the functional connectivity among the node regions of the DMN was further investigated in the two processes respectively. We found that two regions of the DMN, posterior cingulate cortex and left inferior parietal cortex/angular gyrus showed stronger inter-regional connectivity in the externally focused process than it in the internally focused process. Intriguingly, this functional connectivity was closely related to the behavioral performance in the process of external focus. These findings implicated that the functional significance of the DMN in sustained attention was more than responding to the internally directed cognition, and the task paradigm of continuous finger force feedback could benefit for the future studies on the externally focused/internally focused process of sustained attention.

Keywords: sustained attention, external focus/internal focus, fMRI, continuous finger force feedback, functional connectivity

Received: 03 Jun 2019; Accepted: 12 Sep 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Zhou, Lan, Fang, Gong, Zang, Luo and Zhang. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence:
PhD. Hong Luo, Center for Cognition and Brain Disorders, Hangzhou Normal University, Hangzhou, Jiangsu Province, China, luohong@vip.126.com
PhD. Hang Zhang, Institutes of Psychological Sciences, Hangzhou Normal University, Hangzhou, Jiangsu Province, China, kevinhangbnu@foxmail.com