Control networks and hubs

Psychophysiology. 2018 Mar;55(3):10.1111/psyp.13032. doi: 10.1111/psyp.13032. Epub 2017 Nov 28.


Executive control functions are associated with frontal, parietal, cingulate, and insular brain regions that interact through distributed large-scale networks. Here, we discuss how fMRI functional connectivity can shed light on the organization of control networks and how they interact with other parts of the brain. In the first section of our review, we present convergent evidence from fMRI functional connectivity, activation, and lesion studies that there are multiple dissociable control networks in the brain with distinct functional properties. In the second section, we discuss how graph theoretical concepts can help illuminate the mechanisms by which control networks interact with other brain regions to carry out goal-directed functions, focusing on the role of specialized hub regions for mediating cross-network interactions. Again, we use a combination of functional connectivity, lesion, and task activation studies to bolster this claim. We conclude that a large-scale network perspective provides important neurobiological constraints on the neural underpinnings of executive control, which will guide future basic and translational research into executive function and its disruption in disease.

Keywords: cognitive control; executive control; fMRI; functional connectivity; networks.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping / methods*
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Executive Function / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Models, Neurological
  • Neural Pathways / physiology