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Trends Cogn Sci. 2008 Mar;12(3):99-105. doi: 10.1016/j.tics.2008.01.001. Epub 2008 Feb 11.

A dual-networks architecture of top-down control.

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Washington University in St Louis School of Medicine, 4525 Scott Ave, St Louis, MO 63110, USA.


Complex systems ensure resilience through multiple controllers acting at rapid and slower timescales. The need for efficient information flow through complex systems encourages small-world network structures. On the basis of these principles, a group of regions associated with top-down control was examined. Functional magnetic resonance imaging showed that each region had a specific combination of control signals; resting-state functional connectivity grouped the regions into distinct 'fronto-parietal' and 'cingulo-opercular' components. The fronto-parietal component seems to initiate and adjust control; the cingulo-opercular component provides stable 'set-maintenance' over entire task epochs. Graph analysis showed dense local connections within components and weaker 'long-range' connections between components, suggesting a small-world architecture. The control systems of the brain seem to embody the principles of complex systems, encouraging resilient performance.

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