Cortical network functional connectivity in the descent to sleep

Linda J. Larson-Prior, John M. Zempel, Tracy S. Nolan, Fred W. Prior, Abrahamz Snyder, Marcus E. Raichle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

363 Scopus citations


Descent into sleep is accompanied by disengagement of the conscious brain from the external world. It follows that this process should be associated with reduced neural activity in regions of the brain known to mediate interaction with the environment. We examined blood oxygen dependent (BOLD) signal functional connectivity using conventional seed-based analyses in 3 primary sensory and 3 association networks as normal young adults tran- sitioned from wakefulness to light sleep while lying immobile in the bore of a magnetic resonance imaging scanner. Functional connectivity was maintained in each network throughout all examined states of arousal. Indeed, correlations within the dorsal attention network modestly but significantly increased during light sleep compared to wakefulness. Moreover, our data suggest that neuronally mediated BOLD signal variance generally increases in light sleep. These results do not support the view that ongoing BOLD fluctuations primarily reflect unconstrained cognition. Rather, accumulating evidence supports the hypothesis that spontaneous BOLD fluctuations reflect processes that maintain the integrity of functional systems in the brain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4489-4494
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number11
StatePublished - Mar 17 2009


  • Default network
  • Fmri
  • Neuroimaging
  • Non-rapid eye movement sleep


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