Classes of network connectivity and dynamics

Complexity 7 (1):28-38 (2001)


Many kinds of complex systems exhibit characteristic patterns of temporal correlations that emerge as the result of functional interactions within a structured network. One such complex system is the brain, composed of numerous neuronal units linked by synaptic connections. The activity of these neuronal units gives rise to dynamic states that are characterized by specific patterns of neuronal activation and co-activation. These patterns, called functional connectivity, are possible neural correlates of perceptual and cognitive processes. Which functional connectivity patterns arise depends on the anatomical structure of the underlying network, which in turn is modified by a broad range of activity-dependent processes. Given this intricate relationship between structure and function, the question of how patterns of anatomical connectivity constrain or determine dynamical patterns is of considerable theoretical importance. The present study develops computational tools to analyze networks in terms of their structure and dynamics. We identify different classes of network, including networks that are characterized by high complexity. These highly complex networks have distinct structural characteristics such as clustered connectivity and short wiring length similar to those of large-scale networks of the cerebral cortex.

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Giulio Tononi
University of Wisconsin, Madison

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