The default network and the opposing domains hypothesis
Over the last decade interest has grown about a fundamental structural feature of the human brain. Most cognitively demanding tasks activate a similar set of regions, called the task positive network, but they also tend to suppress activity in other parts of the brain, known as the default network. Even when participants are given nothing to do, and think their own thoughts, the default network and the task positive network demonstrate a mutually inhibitory relationship that has been likened to a two-sided see-saw: when one goes up the other goes down. This see-saw relationship appears to be critical to good mental health: it is weakened in many mental disorders including Autism, Schizophrenia, ADHD, dementia and depression. But what is the cognitive significance of this fundamental neural divide? Brain imaging shows it reflects a fundamental division between two mutually incompatible forms of thinking: an analytic cognitive mode which helps us understand physical objects, and an empathetic mode which guides moral reasoning as well as our ability to connect with and understand others as fellow humans. Implications for health, psychology and moral conduct are touched upon.
Hosted by: Dr. David Smith
St. Francis Room, Ketchum Library