Maintenance and Representation of Mind Wandering during Resting-State fMRI


Major advances in resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) techniques in the last two decades have provided a tool to better understand the functional organization of the brain both in health and illness. Despite such developments, characterizing regulation and cerebral representation of mind wandering, which occurs unavoidably during resting-state fMRI scans and may induce variability of the acquired data, remains a work in progress. Here, we demonstrate that a decrease or decoupling in functional connectivity involving the caudate nucleus, insula, medial prefrontal cortex and other domain-specific regions was associated with more sustained mind wandering in particular thought domains during resting-state fMRI. Importantly, our findings suggest that temporal and between-subject variations in functional connectivity of above-mentioned regions might be linked with the continuity of mind wandering. Our study not only provides a preliminary framework for characterizing the maintenance and cerebral representation of different types of mind wandering, but also highlights the importance of taking mind wandering into consideration when studying brain organization with resting-state fMRI in the future.

DOI: 10.1038/srep40722