The Default Mode Network and the Task Positive Network


The Default Network (DMN) and the Task Positive Network (TPN) are two distinct neural networks in the brain. The DMN is a network of brain regions that are active when the individual is not focused on the outside world and the brain is at wakeful rest. It’s called “default” because it is the network that is activated unless we are specifically engaged in goal-directed activity, the realm of the TPN.

Some distinctions:

Task Positive Network:

Focus on task. Actively paying attention (external). Goal-orientation. Reacting to and working with sensory information. Short-term (working) memory. Planning. Abstract reasoning

Default Mode Network:

Dreaming. Envisioning the future. Long-term memory. Gauging other’s perspectives. Theory of mind (understanding others). Introspection. Self-referential thought.

Because the DMN is activated when we are daydreaming, imagining the future, pondering our own thoughts and beliefs, and trying to understand others, it deals more with the being side of things, as contrasted by the TPN which is activated when we are doing or focused on doing.

Probably one of the most interesting aspects of these two networks is that when the DMN is active, the TPN is not. And when the TPN is active, the DMN is not. Part of each network’s function is to shut the other down.

Being aware of these two networks and their distinctions are helpful in conversations with our co-workers (and our selves). In a busy world we tend to lose track of the bigger picture of why we are doing what we are doing. The everyday-tasks therefore become less fulfilling (even when they are actually contributing to our greater purpose). By adding  “DMN-focus” to our conversations (allowing for listening, reflection, asking about long term goals, asking people to share how they want to contribute or what they are proud of or have achieved lately) we help our brains to connect tasks to a purpose, making work much more meaningful.



(Source; GetHUMAN, BeAboveLeadership)