Evidence for Two Independent Factors that Modify Brain Networks to Meet Task Goals

Cell Rep. 2016 Oct 25;17(5):1276-1288. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2016.10.002.


Humans easily and flexibly complete a wide variety of tasks. To accomplish this feat, the brain appears to subtly adjust stable brain networks. Here, we investigate what regional factors underlie these modifications, asking whether networks are either altered at (1) regions activated by a given task or (2) hubs that interconnect different networks. We used fMRI "functional connectivity" (FC) to compare networks during rest and three distinct tasks requiring semantic judgments, mental rotation, and visual coherence. We found that network modifications during these tasks were independently associated with both regional activation and network hubs. Furthermore, active and hub regions were associated with distinct patterns of network modification (differing in their localization, topography of FC changes, and variability across tasks), with activated hubs exhibiting patterns consistent with task control. These findings indicate that task goals modify brain networks through two separate processes linked to local brain function and network hubs.

Keywords: brain networks; fMRI; graph theory; task control.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Female
  • Goals*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Neural Pathways / physiology*
  • Rest
  • Task Performance and Analysis*
  • Young Adult