Damage to the salience network and interactions with the default mode network

Sagar R. Jilka, Gregory Scott, Timothy Ham, Alan Pickering, Valerie Bonnelle, Rodrigo M. Braga, Robert Leech, David J. Sharp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

173 Scopus citations


Interactions between the Salience Network (SN) and the Default Mode Network (DMN) are thought to be important for cognitive control. However, evidence for a causal relationship between the networks is limited. Previously, we have reported that traumatic damage to white matter tracts within the SN predicts abnormal DMN function. Here we investigate the effect of this damage on network interactions that accompany changing motor control. We initially used fMRI of the Stop Signal Task to study response inhibition in humans. In healthy subjects, functional connectivity (FC) between the right anterior insula (rAI), a key node of the SN, and the DMN transiently increased during stopping. This change in FC was not seen in a group of traumatic brain injury (TBI) patients with impaired cognitive control. Furthermore, the amount of SN tract damage negatively correlated with FC between the networks. We confirmed these findings in a second group of TBI patients. Here, switching rather than inhibiting a motor response: (1) was accompanied by a similar increase in network FC in healthy controls; (2) was not seen in TBI patients; and (3) tract damage after TBI again correlated with FC breakdown. This shows that coupling between the rAI and DMN increases with cognitive control and that damage within the SN impairs this dynamic network interaction. This work provides compelling evidence for a model of cognitive control where the SN is involved in the attentional capture of salient external stimuli and signals the DMN to reduce its activity when attention is externally focused.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10798-10807
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number33
StatePublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Default mode network
  • Functional connectivity
  • Psychophysiological interactions
  • Salience network
  • Traumatic brain injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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