The relationship between individual variation in macroscale functional gradients and distinct aspects of ongoing thought
Mckeown B., Strawson WH., Wang HT., Karapanagiotidis T., Vos de Wael R., Benkarim O., Turnbull A., Margulies D., Jefferies E., McCall C., Bernhardt B., Smallwood J.
Contemporary accounts of ongoing thought recognise it as a heterogeneous and multidimensional construct, varying in both form and content. An emerging body of evidence demonstrates that distinct types of experience are associated with unique neurocognitive profiles, that can be described at the whole-brain level as interactions between multiple large-scale networks. The current study sought to explore the possibility that whole-brain functional connectivity patterns at rest may be meaningfully related to patterns of ongoing thought that occurred over this period. Participants underwent resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rs-fMRI) followed by a questionnaire retrospectively assessing the content and form of their ongoing thoughts during the scan. A non-linear dimension reduction algorithm was applied to the rs-fMRI data to identify components explaining the greatest variance in whole-brain connectivity patterns. Using these data, we examined whether specific types of thought measured at the end of the scan were predictive of individual variation along the first three low-dimensional components of functional connectivity at rest. Multivariate analyses revealed that individuals for whom the connectivity of the sensorimotor system was maximally distinct from the visual system were most likely to report thoughts related to finding solutions to problems or goals and least likely to report thoughts related to the past. These results add to an emerging literature that suggests that unique patterns of experience are associated with distinct distributed neurocognitive profiles and highlight that unimodal systems may play an important role in this process.