Cognitive relevance of the community structure of the human brain functional coactivation network

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013 Jul 9;110(28):11583-8. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1220826110. Epub 2013 Jun 24.


There is growing interest in the complex topology of human brain functional networks, often measured using resting-state functional MRI (fMRI). Here, we used a meta-analysis of the large primary literature that used fMRI or PET to measure task-related activation (>1,600 studies; 1985-2010). We estimated the similarity (Jaccard index) of the activation patterns across experimental tasks between each pair of 638 brain regions. This continuous coactivation matrix was used to build a weighted graph to characterize network topology. The coactivation network was modular, with occipital, central, and default-mode modules predominantly coactivated by specific cognitive domains (perception, action, and emotion, respectively). It also included a rich club of hub nodes, located in parietal and prefrontal cortex and often connected over long distances, which were coactivated by a diverse range of experimental tasks. Investigating the topological role of edges between a deactivated and an activated node, we found that such competitive interactions were most frequent between nodes in different modules or between an activated rich-club node and a deactivated peripheral node. Many aspects of the coactivation network were convergent with a connectivity network derived from resting state fMRI data (n = 27, healthy volunteers); although the connectivity network was more parsimoniously connected and differed in the anatomical locations of some hubs. We conclude that the community structure of human brain networks is relevant to cognitive function. Deactivations may play a role in flexible reconfiguration of the network according to cognitive demand, varying the integration between modules, and between the periphery and a central rich club.

Keywords: connectome; economy; small world; workspace.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Brain / physiology*
  • Cognition*
  • Humans