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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2015 Sep 15;112(37):11678-83. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1422487112. Epub 2015 Aug 31.

Dynamic reconfiguration of frontal brain networks during executive cognition in humans.

Author information

  • 1Central Institute for Mental Health Mannheim, University of Heidelberg, Medical Faculty Mannheim, 68159 Mannheim, Germany;
  • 2Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Charité-University Medicine Berlin, Campus Mitte, 10117 Berlin, Germany;
  • 3Department of Bioengineering, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104; Department of Electrical and Systems Engineering, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104 dsb@seas.upenn.edu.

Abstract

The brain is an inherently dynamic system, and executive cognition requires dynamically reconfiguring, highly evolving networks of brain regions that interact in complex and transient communication patterns. However, a precise characterization of these reconfiguration processes during cognitive function in humans remains elusive. Here, we use a series of techniques developed in the field of "dynamic network neuroscience" to investigate the dynamics of functional brain networks in 344 healthy subjects during a working-memory challenge (the "n-back" task). In contrast to a control condition, in which dynamic changes in cortical networks were spread evenly across systems, the effortful working-memory condition was characterized by a reconfiguration of frontoparietal and frontotemporal networks. This reconfiguration, which characterizes "network flexibility," employs transient and heterogeneous connectivity between frontal systems, which we refer to as "integration." Frontal integration predicted neuropsychological measures requiring working memory and executive cognition, suggesting that dynamic network reconfiguration between frontal systems supports those functions. Our results characterize dynamic reconfiguration of large-scale distributed neural circuits during executive cognition in humans and have implications for understanding impaired cognitive function in disorders affecting connectivity, such as schizophrenia or dementia.

KEYWORDS:

dynamic network; flexibility; frontal cortex; graph theory; working memory

PMID:
26324898
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC4577153
Free PMC Article
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