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Nat Neurosci. 2013 Sep;16(9):1348-55. doi: 10.1038/nn.3470. Epub 2013 Jul 28.

Multi-task connectivity reveals flexible hubs for adaptive task control.

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Department of Psychology, Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, Missouri, USA.


Extensive evidence suggests that the human ability to adaptively implement a wide variety of tasks is preferentially a result of the operation of a fronto-parietal brain network (FPN). We hypothesized that this network's adaptability is made possible by flexible hubs: brain regions that rapidly update their pattern of global functional connectivity according to task demands. Using recent advances in characterizing brain network organization and dynamics, we identified mechanisms consistent with the flexible hub theory. We found that the FPN's brain-wide functional connectivity pattern shifted more than those of other networks across a variety of task states and that these connectivity patterns could be used to identify the current task. Furthermore, these patterns were consistent across practiced and novel tasks, suggesting that reuse of flexible hub connectivity patterns facilitates adaptive (novel) task performance. Together, these findings support a central role for fronto-parietal flexible hubs in cognitive control and adaptive implementation of task demands.

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