Integrating mind and body: Investigating differential activation of nodes of the default mode network

Author: Inbal Linchevski1, Amber Maimon2,3, Yulia Golland1, Noa Zeharia2, Amir Amedi2,3, Nava Levit-Binnun1
1 Sagol Center for Brain and Mind, Baruch Ivcher School of Psychology, Reichman University, Herzliya.
2 The Baruch Ivcher Institute for Brain, Cognition and Technology, Baruch Ivcher School of Psychology, Reichman University, Herzliya.
3 The Ruth & Meir Rosental Brain Imaging (MRI) Center, Reichman University, Herzliya.
Conference/Journal: Restor Neurol Neurosci
Date published: 2023 Sep 16
Other: Special Notes: doi: 10.3233/RNN-231334. , Word Count: 234

The default mode network (DMN) is a large-scale brain network tightly correlated with self and self-referential processing, activated by intrinsic tasks and deactivated by externally-directed tasks.

In this study, we aim to investigate the novel approach of default mode activation during progressive muscle relaxation and examine whether differential activation patterns result from the movement of different body parts.

We employed neuroimaging to investigate DMN activity during simple body movements, while performing progressive muscle relaxation. We focused on differentiating the neural response between facial movements and movements of other body parts.

Our results show that the movement of different body parts led to deactivation in several DMN nodes, namely the temporal poles, hippocampus, medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), and posterior cingulate cortex. However, facial movement induced an inverted and selective positive BOLD pattern in some of these areas precisely. Moreover, areas in the temporal poles selective for face movement showed functional connectivity not only with the hippocampus and mPFC but also with the nucleus accumbens.

Our findings suggest that both conceptual and embodied self-related processes, including body movements during progressive muscle relaxation, may be mapped onto shared brain networks. This could enhance our understanding of how practices like PMR influence DMN activity and potentially offer insights to inform therapeutic strategies that rely on mindful body movements.

Keywords: DMN; Progressive muscle relaxation; body-mind; default mode network; self-reference; self-referential processes.

PMID: 37742669 DOI: 10.3233/RNN-231334