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Hum Brain Mapp. 2008 Jul;29(7):858-67. doi: 10.1002/hbm.20578.

Resting in peace or noise: scanner background noise suppresses default-mode network.

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Developmental Medicine Center, Children's Hospital Boston, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02215-5365, USA.


Studies have identified specific brain regions that increase activation during rest relative to attention-demanding tasks; these regions subserve the "default mode of brain function". Most of these studies have been conducted in the presence of scanner background noise (SBN). This noise has been shown to lead to altered attentional demands, and thus may modulate the default-mode network. Twelve subjects were examined during a rest condition that was contrasted with an auditory task. Words were presented either with SBN employing a conventional acquisition or without SBN using a sparse sampling approach. The number of experimental and resting trials was equated between the designs. Selecting the images in the condition with SBN that corresponded in time with the images in the condition without SBN made a direct comparison of the default-mode network (rest contrasted with active task) possible. There was typical activation of the default-mode network during rest versus task for both designs. However, SBN suppressed major components of the default-mode network, including medial prefrontal cortex, posterior cingulate, and precuneus. Our results suggest that the default mode of brain function differs when assessed in the presence compared to the absence of scanner noise, with the presence of scanner noise perhaps adding attentional demands that diminish activation changes between rest and task in a nonlinear way within the default network. Further studies are needed to clarify whether the use of a sparse sampling technique might enhance clinical utilities that have been proposed for analysis of the default-mode network.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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