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Keywords:

  • cortical specialization;
  • fMRI;
  • functional connectivity;
  • rest;
  • self-referential processing

Recent brain imaging research has highlighted a new global system of areas termed the Default Mode network (DM), which appears to specialize in intrinsically oriented functions. However, it is still unresolved to what extent this system contains functional subsystems as in the better known sensory and motor cortices. Here, we report that functional subdivisions can be revealed within individual nodes of the DM, such as the Inferior Parietal Lobule (IPL), through the use of different categories of self-oriented tasks. Subjects underwent BOLD fMRI scans during which they were asked to recall self-related positive and negative information in the categories of people and food. These tasks elicited distinct regions of activation within the DM. Importantly, the observed activations were above the activity level in the baseline, no-task condition for these regions. The main subdivision within the DM was observed in the inferior and posterior parietal cortex. Analysis of coherent resting state fluctuations (functional connectivity analysis) revealed that these regions of activation were part of a distinct network of regions within the DM. These results argue against viewing the DM as a unitary system, and are compatible with the notion that, similar to the rest of the cerebral cortex, the DM consists of distinct, functionally specialized subregions. Hum Brain Mapp 35:1491–1502, 2014. © 2013 Wiley-Liss, Inc.