The Time Varying Networks of the Interoceptive Attention and Rest


Focused attention to spontaneous sensations is a dynamic process that demands interoceptive abilities. Failure to control it has been linked to neuropsychiatric disorders like illness-anxiety disorder. Regulatory strategies, such as focused attention meditation (FAM), may enhance the ability to control focused attention particularly to body sensations, which can be reflected on functional neuroanatomy. The functional connectivity (FC) related to focused attention has been described, however, the dynamic brain organization associated to this process and the differences to the resting state remains to be studied. To quantify the cerebral dynamic counterpart of focused attention to interoception, we examined fifteen experienced meditators while performing a 20-min attentional task to spontaneous sensations. Subjects underwent three scanning sessions obtaining a resting-state scan before and after the task. Sliding window dynamic FC (DFC) and k-means clustering identified five recurrent FC patterns along the dorsal attention network (DAN), default mode network (DMN), and frontoparietal network (FPN). Subjects remained longer in a low connectivity brain pattern during the resting conditions. By contrast, subjects spent a higher proportion of time in complex patterns during the task than rest. Moreover, a carry-over effect in FC was observed following the interoceptive task performance, suggestive of an active role in the learning process linked to cognitive training. Our results suggest that focused attention to interoceptive processes, demands a dynamic brain organization with specific features that distinguishes it from the resting condition. This approach may provide new insights characterizing the neural basis of the focused attention, an essential component for human adaptability.