Default mode network mediates low-frequency fluctuations in brain activity and behavior during sustained attention

Hang Zhang, Shi You Yang, Yang Qiao, Qiu Ge, Yi Yuan Tang, Georg Northoff, Yu Feng Zang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The low-frequency (<0.1 Hz) fluctuation in sustained attention attracts enormous interest in cognitive neuroscience and clinical research since it always leads to cognitive and behavioral lapses. What is the source of the spontaneous fluctuation in sustained attention in neural activity, and how does the neural fluctuation relate to behavioral fluctuation? Here, we address these questions by collecting and analyzing two independent fMRI and behavior datasets. We show that the neural (fMRI) fluctuation in a key brain network, the default-mode network (DMN), mediate behavioral (reaction time) fluctuation during sustained attention. DMN shows the increased amplitude of fluctuation, which correlates with the behavioral fluctuation in a similar frequency range (0.01–0.1 Hz) but not in the lower (<0.01 Hz) or higher (>0.1 Hz) frequency range. This was observed during both auditory and visual sustained attention and was replicable across independent datasets. These results provide a novel insight into the neural source of attention-fluctuation and extend the former concept that DMN was deactivated in cognitive tasks. More generally, our findings highlight the temporal dynamic of the brain–behavior relationship.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5478-5489
Number of pages12
JournalHuman Brain Mapping
Issue number18
StatePublished - Dec 15 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • default mode network
  • fMRI
  • low-frequency fluctuation
  • sustained attention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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