BACKGROUND : Mood disorder patients have a tendency to be more internally oriented, with difficulties in switching attentional focus, which might result in the generation of negative thoughts, such as rumination. The present study explored self-referential neural activity correlating with rumination tendency and attentional switching capacity in bipolar disorder. METHODS : Twenty euthymic bipolar patients and twenty matched healthy controls underwent a novel introspection task of switching between internally and externally focused attention during a word processing task, while their brain activity was assessed using functional MRI. RESULTS : During internal focus, higher activity in self-related regions (mPFC, PCC) was found in euthymic bipolar patients as compared to controls, verifying the hypothesis of exaggerated recruitment of self-referential processes in bipolar subjects. Switching from internal to external focus revealed higher parahippocampal activity in patients as compared to controls, additionally more pronounced when switching away from negative as compared to positive self-referential information. Furthermore, rumination traits correlated with activity in PCC, subgenual and pregenual ACC, and bilateral anterior insula during repetition of internal focus, specifically when evaluating negative words. Finally, we used ACC subregions that correlated with tendency to ruminate as seeds for a whole brain connectivity analysis. Patients showed stronger connectivity between sgACC (seed), pgACC, dPFC, and anterior insula during internal focus, whereas pgACC (seed) was more strongly connected to parahippocampal gyrus when switching from internal to external focus. CONCLUSIONS : These findings reveal an overactive rumination-related network whose activity is enhanced by negative information in euthymic bipolar patients, which could possibly contribute to impaired switching of thoughts away from internal attention.