A Precuneal Causal Loop Mediates External and Internal Information Integration in the Human Brain


A bstract Human brains interpret external stimuli based on internal representations. One untested hypothesis is that the default-mode network (DMN) while responsible for internally oriented cognition can also encode externally oriented information. The unique neuroanatomical and functional fingerprint of the posterior part of the DMN supports a prominent role for the precuneus in this process. By utilising imaging data during two tasks from 100 participants, we found that the precuneus is functionally divided into dorsal and ventral subdivisions, each one differentially connecting to internally and externally oriented networks. The strength and direction of their connectivity is modulated by task difficulty in a manner dictated by the balance of internal versus external cognitive demands. Our study provides evidence that the medial posterior part of the DMN may drive interactions between large-scale networks, potentially allowing access to stored representations for moment to moment interpretation of an ever-changing environment.