The stories we tell ourselves: Cognition, brain networks, and points of view

What if networks in the brain correspond to different ways of interpreting information?

In their article about a large-scale brain networks framework of cognition, Bressler and Menon describe three major networks: central executive, default mode, and salience. The executive network is “responsible for high-level cognitive functions, notably the control of attention and working memory”, the default network is “an integrated system for self-related cognitive activity, including autobiographical, self-monitoring and social functions”, and the salience network “mediates attention to the external and internal worlds”. In very simplified terms, we could describe these as first, second, and third person points of view, respectively.

Perhaps these networks do not process different types of information so much as they process information in different ways. For example, the executive network may represent an “on the ground” perspective, the default network may represent a “bird’s eye” perspective, and the salience network may represent a “big picture” perspective. Each network would essentially function as a different narrative style for processing information.


Large-scale networks in cognition: Emerging methods and principles | Steven Bressler • Vinod Menon