Dynamic reconfiguration of frontal brain networks during executive cognition in humans.


The brain is an inherently dynamic system, and executive cognition requires dynamically reconfiguring, highly evolving networks of brain regions that interact in complex and transient communication patterns. However, a precise characterization of these reconfiguration processes during cognitive function in humans remains elusive. Here, we use a series of techniques developed in the field of "dynamic network neuroscience" to investigate the dynamics of functional brain networks in 344 healthy subjects during a working-memory challenge (the "n-back" task). In contrast to a control condition, in which dynamic changes in cortical networks were spread evenly across systems, the effortful working-memory condition was characterized by a reconfiguration of frontoparietal and frontotemporal networks. This reconfiguration, which characterizes "network flexibility," employs transient and heterogeneous connectivity between frontal systems, which we refer to as "integration." Frontal integration predicted neuropsychological measures requiring working memory and executive cognition, suggesting that dynamic network reconfiguration between frontal systems supports those functions. Our results characterize dynamic reconfiguration of large-scale distributed neural circuits during executive cognition in humans and have implications for understanding impaired cognitive function in disorders affecting connectivity, such as schizophrenia or dementia.


Braun, Urs; Schäfer, Axel; Walter, Henrik; Erk, Susanne; Romanczuk-Seiferth, Nina; Haddad, Leila; Schweiger, Janina I; Grimm, Oliver; Heinz, Andreas; Tost, Heike; Meyer-Lindenberg, Andreas; Bassett, Danielle S;


  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Brain/ physiology
  • Brain Mapping
  • Cognition
  • Executive Function
  • Female
  • Frontal Lobe/ physiology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Memory, Short-Term
  • Middle Aged
  • Nerve Net/ physiology
  • Young Adult

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