R. Nathan Spreng

R. Nathan Spreng
McGill University | McGill · Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery

PhD

About

156
Publications
51,707
Reads
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14,219
Citations
Introduction
My research examines large-scale brain network dynamics and their role in cognition. I am also actively involved in the development and implementation of multivariate and network-based statistical approaches to assess brain activity. In doing so, I hope to better understand the properties of, and interactions between, the brain networks underlying complex cognitive processes as they change across the lifespan.
Additional affiliations
September 2008 - May 2012
Harvard University
Position
  • PostDoc Position
Education
September 2001 - May 2008
University of Toronto
Field of study
  • Psychology

Publications

Publications (156)
Article
Substantial neuroimaging evidence suggests that spontaneous engagement of the default network impairs performance on tasks requir-ing executive control. We investigated whether this impairment depends on the congruence between executive control demands and internal mentation. We hypothesized that activation of the default network might enhance perf...
Article
Human cognition is increasingly characterized as an emergent property of interactions among distributed, functionally specialized brain networks. We recently demonstrated that the antagonistic "default" and "dorsal attention" networks-subserving internally and externally directed cognition, respectively-are modulated by a third "fronto-parietal con...
Article
Tasks that demand externalized attention reliably suppress default network activity while activating the dorsal attention network. These networks have an intrinsic competitive relationship; activation of one suppresses activity of the other. Consequently, many assume that default network activity is suppressed during goal-directed cognition. We cha...
Article
A core brain network has been proposed to underlie a number of different processes, including remembering, prospection, navigation, and theory of mind [Buckner, R. L., & Carroll, D. C. Self-projection and the brain. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 11, 49-57, 2007]. This purported network-medial prefrontal, medial-temporal, and medial and lateral pari...
Preprint
Global signal regression effectively mitigates noise in fMRI data but also inadvertently removes neural signals of interest. We show distinct linear and quadratic lifespan global signal topography associations with age. We also show that global signal regression significantly influences age-functional connectivity strength associations. These findi...
Preprint
Full-text available
Previous research in the field of personality neuroscience has identified associations of conscientiousness and related constructs like impulsivity and self-control with structural and functional properties of particular regions in the prefrontal cortex (PFC) and insula. Network-based conceptions of brain function suggest that these regions probabl...
Article
Aging changes autobiographical memory (AM), yet the neural correlates of these changes are poorly understood, likely due to methodological variability across studies. We conducted a quantitative meta-analysis using activation likelihood estimation (GingerALE 3.0.2) to identify regions AM retrieval engaged in younger and older adults across 45 studi...
Poster
Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) is a neurodegenerative disease impacting 50% of people with dementia under the age of 60. A core feature of FTD is a deficit in social cognition. The salience network, a functionally connected assembly of brain regions including the anterior insula (aINS) and anterior cingulate, is impacted by FTD. The Genetic FTD Init...
Article
Full-text available
Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) and psilocybin are serotonergic psychedelic compounds with potential in the treatment of mental health disorders. Past neuroimaging investigations have revealed that both compounds can elicit significant changes to whole-brain functional organization and dynamics. A recent proposal linked past findings into a unifie...
Article
Full-text available
Central to understanding human behavior is a comprehensive mapping of brain-behavior relations within the context of lifespan development. Reproducible discoveries depend upon well-powered samples of reliable data. We provide to the scientific community two, 10-minute, multi-echo functional MRI (ME-fMRI) runs, and structural MRI (T1-MPRAGE), from 1...
Preprint
Progress in scientific disciplines is often accompanied by the standardization of terminology and nomenclature. Network neuroscience, as applied at the level of macro-scale organization of the brain, has emerged over the past decade from interdisciplinary collaborations. The field is only beginning to confront the challenges associated with develop...
Article
The intrinsic functional organization of the brain changes into older adulthood. Age differences are observed at multiple spatial scales, from global reductions in modularity and segregation of distributed brain systems, to network-specific patterns of dedifferentiation. Whether dedifferentiation reflects an inevitable, global shift in brain functi...
Article
Recollection of personal past events differs across the lifespan. Older individuals recall fewer episodic details and convey more semantic information than young. Here we examine how gray matter volumes in temporal lobe regions integral to episodic and semantic memory (hippocampus and temporal poles, respectively) are related to age differences in...
Article
White matter hyperintensities (WMH) are among the most prominent structural changes observed in older adulthood. These changes coincide with functional changes to the intrinsic network organization of the aging brain. Yet little is known about how WMH are associated with changes to the whole-brain functional connectome in normal aging. We used a le...
Preprint
This paper adopted an adult lifespan developmental approach by asking 87 young (25-39 years), 59 middle-aged (44-59 years), and 47 older (60-78 years) women and men to rate the trustworthiness of faces that systematically varied in age (young, middle-aged, older) and emotion (neutral, happy, sad, fearful, angry, disgusted) from the FACES Lifespan D...
Preprint
Full-text available
Autobiographical memory (AM) involves a rich phenomenological re-experiencing of a spatio-temporal event from the past, which is challenging to objectively quantify. The Autobiographical Interview (AI; Levine et al., 2002, Psychology & Aging) is a manualized performance-based assessment designed to quantify episodic (internal) and semantic (externa...
Article
Objectives: Older adults are at high risk for complications from COVID-19. Health guidelines recommend limiting physical contact during the pandemic, drastically reducing opportunities for in-person social exchange. Older adults are also susceptible to negative consequences from loneliness and the COVID-19 pandemic has likely exacerbated this age-...
Preprint
Full-text available
Neurotransmitter receptors support the propagation of signals in the human brain. How receptor systems are situated within macroscale neuroanatomy and how they shape emergent function remains poorly understood, and there exists no comprehensive atlas of receptors. Here we collate positron emission tomography scans in >1,200 healthy individuals to c...
Preprint
Full-text available
Neuroimaging using more ecologically valid stimuli such as audiobooks has advanced our understanding of natural language comprehension in the brain. However, prior naturalistic stimuli have typically been restricted to a single language, which limited generalizability beyond small typological domains. Here we present the "Le Petit Prince fMRI Corpu...
Article
Positions of power involving moral decision-making are often held by older adults (OAs). However, little is known about age differences in moral decision-making and the intrinsic organization of the aging brain. In this study, younger adults (YAs; n = 117, Mage = 22.11) and OAs (n = 82, Mage = 67.54) made decisions in hypothetical moral dilemmas an...
Article
Changes in cognition, affect, and brain function combine to promote a shift in the nature of mentation in older adulthood, favoring exploitation of prior knowledge over exploratory search as the starting point for thought and action. Age-related exploitation biases result from the accumulation of prior knowledge, reduced cognitive control, and a sh...
Preprint
Full-text available
The relationship between structural and functional connectivity in the brain is a key question in systems neuroscience. Modern accounts assume a single global structure-function relationship that persists over time. Here we show that structure-function coupling is dynamic and regionally heterogeneous. We use a temporal unwrapping procedure to ident...
Article
The Survey of Autobiographical Memory (SAM) was designed as an easy-to-administer measure of self-perceived autobiographical memory (AM) recollection capacity. We provide a comprehensive psychometric evaluation of the SAM in younger and older adults. First, we evaluated the reliability of the SAM as a measure of self-perceived recollective capacity...
Article
The neural mechanisms contributing to flexible cognition and behavior and how they change with development and aging are incompletely understood. The current study explored intrinsic brain dynamics across the lifespan using resting-state fMRI data (n = 601, 6–85 years) and examined the interactions between age and brain dynamics among three neuroco...
Article
Resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rs-fMRI) allows estimation of individual-specific cortical parcellations. We have previously developed a multi-session hierarchical Bayesian model (MS-HBM) for estimating high-quality individual-specific network-level parcellations. Here, we extend the model to estimate individual-specific areal-...
Article
Neuronal variability patterns promote the formation and organization of neural circuits. Macroscale similarities in regional variability patterns may therefore be linked to the strength and topography of inter-regional functional connections. To assess this relationship, we used multi-echo resting-state fMRI and investigated macroscale connectivity...
Preprint
Full-text available
LSD and psilocybin are serotonergic psychedelic compounds with potential in the treatment of mental health disorders. Past neuroimaging investigations have revealed that both compounds can elicit significant changes to whole-brain functional organization and dynamics. A recent proposal linked past findings into a unified model and hypothesized redu...
Preprint
Full-text available
The intrinsic network architecture of the brain is continuously shaped by biological and behavioral factors from younger to older adulthood. Differences in functional networks can reveal how a lifetime of learning and lived experience can alter large-scale neurophysiological dynamics, offering a powerful lens into brain and cognitive aging. Quantif...
Article
Full-text available
Human cortex is patterned by a complex and interdigitated web of large-scale functional networks. Recent methodological breakthroughs reveal variation in the size, shape, and spatial topography of cortical networks across individuals. While spatial network organization emerges across development, is stable over time, and is predictive of behavior,...
Chapter
Financial exploitation among older adults is an increasing public health concern. Whether in-person or online, financial risks are becoming omnipresent in our increasingly connected and wired world. Understanding why some older adults are more vulnerable to financial exploitation than others, and the specific contexts in which this vulnerability is...
Article
Full-text available
Social exclusion refers to the experience of being disregarded or rejected by others and has wide-ranging negative consequences for well-being and cognition. Cyberball, a game where a ball is virtually tossed between players, then leads to the exclusion of the research participant, is a common method used to examine the experience of social exclusi...
Preprint
Full-text available
Resting-state functional MRI (rs-fMRI) allows estimation of individual-specific cortical parcellations. We have previously developed a multi-session hierarchical Bayesian model (MS-HBM) for estimating high-quality individual-specific network-level parcellations. Here, we extend the model to estimate individual-specific areal-level parcellations. Wh...
Article
Full-text available
Complex social interplay is a defining property of the human species. In social neuroscience, many experiments have sought to first define and then locate 'perspective taking', 'empathy', and other psychological concepts to specific brain circuits. Seldom, bottom-up studies were conducted to first identify explanatory patterns of brain variation, w...
Article
Loneliness imposes significant risks to physical, mental and brain health in older adulthood. With the social distancing regimes implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic, there is even greater urgency to understand the human health costs of social isolation. In this viewpoint we describe how the experience of loneliness may alter the structure and...
Article
Full-text available
Humans survive and thrive through social exchange. Yet, social dependency also comes at a cost. Perceived social isolation, or loneliness, affects physical and mental health, cognitive performance, overall life expectancy, and increases vulnerability to Alzheimer's disease-related dementias. Despite severe consequences on behavior and health, the n...
Article
Full-text available
The macro-scale intrinsic functional network architecture of the human brain has been well characterized. Early studies revealed robust and enduring patterns of static connectivity, while more recent work has begun to explore the temporal dynamics of these large-scale brain networks. Little work to date has investigated directed connectivity within...
Preprint
Financial exploitation among older adults is an increasing public health concern. Whether in-person or online, financial risks are becoming omnipresent in our increasingly connected and wired world. Understanding why some older adults are more vulnerable to financial exploitation than others, and the specific contexts in which this vulnerability is...
Preprint
Full-text available
The complexity of social interactions is a defining property of the human species. Many social neuroscience experiments have sought to map "perspective taking", "empathy", and other canonical psychological constructs to distinguishable brain circuits. This predominant research paradigm was seldom complemented by bottom-up studies of the unknown sou...
Preprint
Full-text available
Human cortex is patterned by a complex and interdigitated web of large-scale functional networks. Recent methodological breakthroughs reveal variation in the size, shape, and spatial topography of cortical networks across individuals. While spatial network organization emerges across development, is stable over time, and predictive of behavior, it...
Article
Full-text available
In young adults, mentalizing about known others engages the default network, with differential brain response modulated by social closeness. While the functional integrity of the default network changes with age, few studies have investigated how these changes impact the representation of known others, across levels of closeness. Young (N = 29, 16...
Preprint
The macro-scale intrinsic functional network architecture of the human brain has been well characterized. Early studies revealed robust and enduring patterns of static connectivity, while more recent work has begun to explore the temporal dynamics of these large-scale brain networks. Little work to date has investigated directed connectivity within...
Article
Full-text available
Alzheimer's disease neurodegeneration is thought to spread across anatomically and functionally connected brain regions. However, the precise sequence of spread remains ambiguous. The prevailing model used to guide in vivo human neuroimaging and non-human animal research assumes that Alzheimer's degeneration starts in the entorhinal cortices, befor...
Article
Full-text available
The past decade has witnessed a proliferation of studies aimed at characterizing the human connectome. These projects map the brain regions comprising large-scale systems underlying cognition using non-invasive neuroimaging approaches and advanced analytic techniques adopted from network science. While the idea that the human brain is composed of m...
Article
Full-text available
In recent years, several studies have indicated that healthy older adults exhibit a reduction in task-unrelated thoughts compared to young adults. However, much less is known regarding age-related differences in time spent engaging in stimulus-independent thoughts or in their neural correlates in the absence of an ongoing task. In the current study...
Article
Full-text available
The global signal in resting-state functional MRI data is considered to be dominated by physiological noise and artifacts, yet a growing literature suggests that it also carries information about widespread neural activity. The biological relevance of the global signal remains poorly understood. Applying principal component analysis to a large neur...
Article
Full-text available
The white matter architecture of the brain imparts a distinct signature on neuronal coactivation patterns. Interregional projections promote synchrony among distant neuronal populations, giving rise to richly patterned functional networks. A variety of statistical, communication, and biophysical models have been proposed to study the relationship b...
Article
Full-text available
Aging is characterized by accumulation of structural and metabolic changes in the brain. Recent studies suggest transmodal brain networks are especially sensitive to aging, which, we hypothesize, may be due to their apical position in the cortical hierarchy. Studying an open‐access healthy cohort (n = 102, age range = 30–89 years) with MRI and Aβ P...
Article
Poor estimation of one's future actions has been associated with the influence of reward over executive control processes during prospection. However, the neural mechanisms underlying this reward-control trade-off remain poorly understood. In the present study, we take advantage of projection bias, underestimating how motivations will change in the...
Article
An influential model of executive control suggests that it comprises three dissociable processes: working memory, inhibition, and task switching. Multiple studies have investigated how these processes are individually implemented in the human brain. However, few have directly investigated this question using a common task architecture and a within-...
Preprint
Full-text available
Alzheimer's disease neuropathology is thought to spread across anatomically and functionally connected brain regions. However, the precise sequence of spread remains ambiguous. The prevailing model posits that Alzheimer's neurodegeneration starts in the entorhinal cortices, before spreading to temporoparietal cortex. Challenging this model, we earl...
Article
Aging is associated with increased difficulty in facial emotion identification, possibly due to age-related network change. The neuropeptide oxytocin (OT) facilitates emotion identification, but this is understudied in aging. To determine the effects of OT on dynamic facial emotion identification across adulthood, 46 young and 48 older participants...
Article
Coordinate-based meta-analysis can provide important insights into mind-brain relationships. A popular approach for curated small-scale meta-analysis is activation likelihood estimation (ALE), which identifies brain regions consistently activated across a selected set of experiments, such as within a functional domain or mental disorder. ALE can al...
Article
Full-text available
Social relationships imbue life with meaning, whereas loneliness diminishes one's sense of meaning in life. Yet the extent of interdependence between these psychological constructs remains poorly understood. We took a multivariate network approach to examine resting-state fMRI functional connectivity's association with loneliness and meaning in a l...
Article
Schizophrenia (SCZ) is recognized as a disorder of distributed brain dysconnectivity. While progress has been made delineating large-scale functional networks in SCZ, little is known about alterations in grey matter integrity of these networks. We used a multivariate approach to identify the structural covariance of the salience, default, motor, vi...
Article
Cognitive aging is often described in the context of loss or decline. Emerging research suggests that the story is more complex, with older adults showing both losses and gains in cognitive ability. With increasing age, declines in controlled, or fluid, cognition occur in the context of gains in crystallized knowledge of oneself and the world. This...
Preprint
Full-text available
I. A bstract Aging is characterised by accumulation of structural and metabolic changes in the brain. Recent studies suggest transmodal brain networks are especially sensitive to aging, which, we hypothesise, may be due to their apical position in the cortical hierarchy. Studying an open-access healthy cohort (n=102, age range = 30-89 years) with...
Article
Full-text available
Creativity refers to the ability to generate novel associations and has been linked to better problem-solving and real-world functional abilities. In younger adults, creative cognition has been associated with functional connectivity among brain networks implicated in executive control [fronto-parietal network (FPN) and salience network (SN)] and a...
Preprint
Cognitive aging is often described in the context of loss or decline. Emerging research suggests that the story is more complex, with older adults showing both losses and gains in cognitive ability. With increasing age, declines in controlled, or fluid, cognition occurs in the context of gains in crystalized knowledge of oneself and the world. This...
Preprint
Full-text available
The white matter architecture of brain networks imparts a distinct signature on neuronal co-activation patterns. Inter-regional projections promote synchrony among distant neuronal populations, giving rise to richly patterned functional networks. A variety of statistical, communication and biophysical models have been proposed to study the relation...
Preprint
Full-text available
Coordinate-based meta-analysis can provide important insights into mind-brain relationships. A popular approach for curated small-scale meta-analysis is activation likelihood estimation (ALE), which identifies brain regions consistently activated across a selected set of experiments, such as within a functional domain or mental disorder. ALE can al...
Article
Full-text available
Recent investigations in neuroscience elucidate the neural basis of close other cognitive representations, which serve functions central to our health and happiness. Yet, there are persistent barriers to this research, including disparate research methods and the absence of a common theoretical background. The present review connects neuroimaging a...