Disruptions in effective connectivity within and between default mode network and anterior forebrain mesocircuit in prolonged disorders of consciousness

Research output: Working paper/PreprintPreprint


Colleges, School and Institutes


Recent research indicates prolonged disorders of consciousness (PDOC) result from structural and functional impairments to key cortical and subcortical networks including the default mode network (DMN) and the anterior forebrain mesocircuit (AFM). However, the specific mechanisms which underpin such impairments remain unknown. It is known that disruptions in the striatal-pallidal pathway can result in the over inhibition of the thalamus and lack of excitation to the cortex that characterises PDOC. Here, we used spectral dynamic causal modelling and parametric empirical Bayes on rs-fMRI data to assess whether DMN changes in PDOC are caused by disruptions in the AFM.

PDOC patients displayed overall reduced coupling within the AFM, and specifically, decreased self-inhibition of the striatum paired with reduced coupling from striatum to thalamus. This led to loss of inhibition from AFM to DMN, mostly driven by posterior areas including the precuneus and inferior parietal cortex. In turn, the DMN showed disruptions in self-inhibition of the precuneus and medial prefrontal cortex.

Our results provide support for the anterior mesocircuit model at the subcortical level but highlight an inhibitory role for the AFM over the DMN, which is disrupted in PDOC.


Original languageEnglish
Number of pages23
Publication statusPublished - 17 Apr 2021