Hyperactivity of the default mode network in schizophrenia and free energy: A dialogue between Freudian theory of psychosis and neuroscience.

Jessica Tran The, Jean-Philippe Ansermet, Pierre J. Magistretti, Francois Ansermet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The economic conceptualization of Freudian metapsychology, based on an energetics model of the psyche's workings, offers remarkable commonalities with some recent discoveries in neuroscience, notably in the field of neuroenergetics. The pattern of cerebral activity at resting state and the identification of a default mode network (DMN), a network of areas whose activity is detectable at baseline conditions by neuroimaging techniques, offers a promising field of research in the dialogue between psychoanalysis and neuroscience. In this article we study one significant clinical application of this interdisciplinary dialogue by looking at the role of the DMN in the psychopathology of schizophrenia. Anomalies in the functioning of the DMN have been observed in schizophrenia. Studies have evidenced the existence of hyperactivity in this network in schizophrenia patients, particularly among those for whom a positive symptomatology is dominant. These data are particularly interesting when considered from the perspective of the psychoanalytic understanding of the positive symptoms of psychosis, most notably the Freudian hypothesis of delusions as an “attempt at recovery.” Combining the data from research in neuroimaging of schizophrenia patients with the Freudian hypothesis, we propose considering the hyperactivity of the DMN as a consequence of a process of massive reassociation of traces occurring in schizophrenia. This is a process that may constitute an attempt at minimizing the excess of free energy present in psychosis. Modern models of active inference and the free energy principle (FEP) may shed some light on these processes.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalFrontiers in Human Neuroscience
StatePublished - Dec 14 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Neurology
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'Hyperactivity of the default mode network in schizophrenia and free energy: A dialogue between Freudian theory of psychosis and neuroscience.'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this