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Nat Commun. 2016 Apr 12;7:11061. doi: 10.1038/ncomms11061.

Dynamic information routing in complex networks.

Kirst C1,2,3,4,5, Timme M1,3,4, Battaglia D6.

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Network Dynamics, Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization (MPIDS), Göttingen 37077, Germany.
Nonlinear Dynamics, Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization (MPIDS), Göttingen 37077, Germany.
Institute for Nonlinear Dynamics, Georg-August University Göttingen, Göttingen 37077, Germany.
Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience (BCCN), Göttingen 37077, Germany.
Center for Physics and Biology, The Rockefeller University, New York, New York 10065, USA.
Université Aix-Marseille, INSERM UMR 1106, Institut de Neurosciences des Systémes, Marseille 13005, France.


Flexible information routing fundamentally underlies the function of many biological and artificial networks. Yet, how such systems may specifically communicate and dynamically route information is not well understood. Here we identify a generic mechanism to route information on top of collective dynamical reference states in complex networks. Switching between collective dynamics induces flexible reorganization of information sharing and routing patterns, as quantified by delayed mutual information and transfer entropy measures between activities of a network's units. We demonstrate the power of this mechanism specifically for oscillatory dynamics and analyse how individual unit properties, the network topology and external inputs co-act to systematically organize information routing. For multi-scale, modular architectures, we resolve routing patterns at all levels. Interestingly, local interventions within one sub-network may remotely determine nonlocal network-wide communication. These results help understanding and designing information routing patterns across systems where collective dynamics co-occurs with a communication function.

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