BACKGROUND: Cognitive insight is defined as the ability to reflect upon oneself (i.e. self-reflectiveness), and to not be overly confident of one's own (incorrect) beliefs (i.e. self-certainty). These abilities are impaired in several disorders, while they are essential for the evaluation and regulation of one's behavior. We hypothesized that cognitive insight is a dynamic process, and therefore examined how it relates to temporal dynamics of resting state functional connectivity (FC) and underlying structural network characteristics in 58 healthy individuals.
METHODS: Cognitive insight was measured with the Beck Cognitive Insight Scale. FC characteristics were calculated after obtaining four FC states with leading eigenvector dynamics analysis. Gray matter (GM) and DTI connectomes were based on GM similarity and probabilistic tractography. Structural graph characteristics, such as path length, clustering coefficient, and small-world coefficient, were calculated with the Brain Connectivity Toolbox. FC and structural graph characteristics were correlated with cognitive insight.
RESULTS: Individuals with lower cognitive insight switched more and spent less time in a globally synchronized state. Additionally, individuals with lower self-reflectiveness spent more time in, had a higher probability of, and had a higher chance of switching to a state entailing default mode network (DMN) areas. With lower self-reflectiveness, DTI-connectomes were segregated less (i.e. lower global clustering coefficient) with lower embeddedness of the left angular gyrus specifically (i.e. lower local clustering coefficient).
CONCLUSIONS: Our results suggest less stable functional and structural networks in individuals with poorer cognitive insight, specifically self-reflectiveness. An overly present DMN appears to play a key role in poorer self-reflectiveness.