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Nat Rev Neurosci. 2009 Mar;10(3):186-98. doi: 10.1038/nrn2575. Epub 2009 Feb 4.

Complex brain networks: graph theoretical analysis of structural and functional systems.

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University of Cambridge, Behavioural & Clinical Neurosciences Institute, Department of Psychiatry, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, CB2 2QQ, UK.

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  • Nat Rev Neurosci. 2009 Apr;10(4):312.


Recent developments in the quantitative analysis of complex networks, based largely on graph theory, have been rapidly translated to studies of brain network organization. The brain's structural and functional systems have features of complex networks--such as small-world topology, highly connected hubs and modularity--both at the whole-brain scale of human neuroimaging and at a cellular scale in non-human animals. In this article, we review studies investigating complex brain networks in diverse experimental modalities (including structural and functional MRI, diffusion tensor imaging, magnetoencephalography and electroencephalography in humans) and provide an accessible introduction to the basic principles of graph theory. We also highlight some of the technical challenges and key questions to be addressed by future developments in this rapidly moving field.

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