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The Precuneus and Consciousness

  • Andrea E. Cavanna

This article reviews the rapidly growing literature on the functional anatomy and behavioral correlates of the precuneus, with special reference to imaging neuroscience studies using hamodynamic techniques. The precuneus, along with adjacent areas within the posteromedial parietal cortex, is among the most active cortical regions according to the “default mode” of brain function during the conscious resting state, whereas it selectively deactivates in a number of pathophysiological conditions (ie, sleep, vegetative state, drug-induced anesthesia), and neuropsychiatric disorders (ie, epilepsy, Alzheimer's disease, and schizophrenia) characterized by impaired consciousness. These findings, along with the widespread connectivity pattern, suggest that the precuneus may play a central role in the neural network correlates of consciousness. Specifically, its activity seems to correlate with self-reflection processes, possibly involving mental imagery and episodic/autobiographical memory retrieval.

Corresponding author
Please direct all correspondence to: Andrea E. Cavanna, MD, Institute of Neurology, Queen Square, London WC1N3BG, UK; E-mail:
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CNS Spectrums
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