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Ann Neurol. 1990 Nov;28(5):597-613.

Large-scale neurocognitive networks and distributed processing for attention, language, and memory.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, Beth Israel Hospital, Boston, MA 02215.


Cognition and comportment are subserved by interconnected neural networks that allow high-level computational architectures including parallel distributed processing. Cognitive problems are not resolved by a sequential and hierarchical progression toward predetermined goals but instead by a simultaneous and interactive consideration of multiple possibilities and constraints until a satisfactory fit is achieved. The resultant texture of mental activity is characterized by almost infinite richness and flexibility. According to this model, complex behavior is mapped at the level of multifocal neural systems rather than specific anatomical sites, giving rise to brain-behavior relationships that are both localized and distributed. Each network contains anatomically addressed channels for transferring information content and chemically addressed pathways for modulating behavioral tone. This approach provides a blueprint for reexploring the neurological foundations of attention, language, memory, and frontal lobe function.

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