Heterogeneity within the frontoparietal control network and its relationship to the default and dorsal attention networks

Matthew L. Dixon, Alejandro De La Vega, Caitlin Mills, Jessica Andrews-Hanna, R. Nathan Spreng, Michael W. Cole, Kalina Christoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

330 Scopus citations


The frontoparietal control network (FPCN) plays a central role in executive control. It has been predominantly viewed as a unitary domain general system. Here, we examined patterns of FPCN functional connectivity (FC) across multiple conditions of varying cognitive demands, to test for FPCN heterogeneity. We identified two distinct subsystems within the FPCN based on hierarchical clustering and machine learning classification analyses of within-FPCN FC patterns. These two FPCN subsystems exhibited distinct patterns of FC with the default network (DN) and the dorsal attention network (DAN). FPCNA exhibited stronger connectivity with the DN than the DAN, whereas FPCNB exhibited the opposite pattern. This twofold FPCN differentiation was observed across four independent datasets, across nine different conditions (rest and eight tasks), at the level of individual-participant data, as well as in meta-analytic coactivation patterns. Notably, the extent of FPCN differentiation varied across conditions, suggesting flexible adaptation to task demands. Finally, we used meta-analytic tools to identify several functional domains associated with the DN and DAN that differentially predict activation in the FPCN subsystems. These findings reveal a flexible and heterogeneous FPCN organization that may in part emerge from separable DN and DAN processing streams. We propose that FPCNA may be preferentially involved in the regulation of introspective processes, whereas FPCNB may be preferentially involved in the regulation of visuospatial perceptual attention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E1598-E1607
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number7
StatePublished - Feb 13 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 National Academy of Sciences. All Rights Reserved.


  • Cognitive control
  • Default network
  • Dorsal attention
  • Frontoparietal control network
  • Functional connectivity
  • Network


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