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Neuron. 2016 Oct 19;92(2):544-554. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2016.09.018. Epub 2016 Sep 29.

The Dynamics of Functional Brain Networks: Integrated Network States during Cognitive Task Performance.

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Department of Psychology, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA; Neuroscience Research Australia, University of New South Wales, Sydney NSW 2052, Australia. Electronic address:
Department of Psychology, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.
University of Queensland Centre for Clinical Research, University of Queensland, Brisbane QLD 4072, Australia.
Department of Health Sciences and Technology, Neural Control of Movement Laboratory, ETH Zurich, 8092 Zurich, Switzerland.


Higher brain function relies upon the ability to flexibly integrate information across specialized communities of brain regions; however, it is unclear how this mechanism manifests over time. In this study, we used time-resolved network analysis of fMRI data to demonstrate that the human brain traverses between functional states that maximize either segregation into tight-knit communities or integration across otherwise disparate neural regions. Integrated states enable faster and more accurate performance on a cognitive task, and are associated with dilations in pupil diameter, suggesting that ascending neuromodulatory systems may govern the transition between these alternative modes of brain function. Together, our results confirm a direct link between cognitive performance and the dynamic reorganization of the network structure of the brain.

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