Interactions between the default network and dorsal attention network vary across default subsystems, time, and cognitive states

Matthew L. Dixon, Jessica R. Andrews-Hanna, R. Nathan Spreng, Zachary C. Irving, Caitlin Mills, Manesh Girn, Kalina Christoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

97 Scopus citations


Anticorrelation between the default network (DN) and dorsal attention network (DAN) is thought to be an intrinsic aspect of functional brain organization reflecting competing functions. However, the effect size of functional connectivity (FC) between the DN and DAN has yet to be established. Furthermore, the stability of anticorrelations across distinct DN subsystems, different contexts, and time, remains unexplored. In study 1 we summarize effect sizes of DN-DAN FC from 20 studies, and in study 2 we probe the variability of DN-DAN interactions across six different cognitive states in a new data set. We show that: (i) the DN and DAN have an independent rather than anticorrelated relationship when global signal regression is not used (median effect size across studies: r=−.06; 95% CI: −.13 to.08); (ii) the DAN exhibits weak negative FC with the DN Core subsystem but is uncorrelated with the dorsomedial prefrontal and medial temporal lobe subsystems; (iii) DN-DAN interactions vary significantly across different cognitive states; (iv) DN-DAN FC fluctuates across time between periods of anticorrelation and periods of positive correlation; and (v) changes across time in the strength of DN-DAN coupling are coordinated with interactions involving the frontoparietal control network (FPCN). Overall, the observed weak effect sizes related to DN-DAN anticorrelation suggest the need to re-conceptualize the nature of interactions between these networks. Furthermore, our findings demonstrate that DN-DAN interactions are not stable, but rather, exhibit substantial variability across time and context, and are coordinated with broader network dynamics involving the FPCN.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)632-649
Number of pages18
StatePublished - Feb 15 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Anticorrelation
  • Attention
  • Default network
  • Dorsal attention network
  • Dynamic functional connectivity
  • Frontoparietal control network

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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