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Trends Cogn Sci. 2015 Oct;19(10):616-628. doi: 10.1016/j.tics.2015.07.011.

The Rediscovery of Slowness: Exploring the Timing of Cognition.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford, Oxford OX3 7JX, UK; Center of Functionally Integrative Neuroscience (CFIN), Aarhus University, Denmark.
Rotman Research Institute of Baycrest Center, University of Toronto, Toronto M6A 2E1, Canada.
Max-Planck Institute for Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Leipzig, Germany; Department of Neurology, Charité, Charitéplatz 1, 10117 Berlin, Germany.
Institut de Neurosciences des Systèmes, Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale (INSERM) Unité Mixte de Recherche (UMR) 1106, Aix-Marseille Université, Faculté de Médecine, 27, Boulevard Jean Moulin, 13005 Marseille, France.
Center for Brain and Cognition, Computational Neuroscience Group, Department of Information and Communication Technologies, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Roc Boronat 138, Barcelona 08018, Spain; Institució Catalana de la Recerca i Estudis Avançats (ICREA), Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Passeig Lluís Companys 23, Barcelona 08010, Spain. Electronic address:


Slowness of thought is not necessarily a handicap but could be a signature of optimal brain function. Emerging evidence shows that neuroanatomical and dynamical constraints of the human brain shape its functionality in optimal ways, characterized by slowness during task-based cognition in the context of spontaneous resting-state activity. This activity can be described mechanistically by whole-brain computational modeling that relates directly to optimality in the context of theories arguing for metastability in the brain. We discuss the role for optimal processing of information in the context of cognitive, task-related activity, and propose that combining multi-modal neuroimaging and explicit whole-brain models focused on the timing of functional dynamics can help to uncover fundamental rules of brain function in health and disease.


Resting-state activity; dynamical systems; whole-brain modeling

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