Cortical High-Density Counterstream Architectures

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Science  01 Nov 2013:
Vol. 342, Issue 6158, 1238406
DOI: 10.1126/science.1238406

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Structured Abstract


The cerebral cortex is divisible into many individual areas, each exhibiting distinct connectivity profiles, architecture, and physiological characteristics. Interactions among cortical areas underlie higher sensory, motor, and cognitive functions. Graph theory provides an important framework for understanding network properties of the interareal weighted and directed connectivity matrix reported in recent studies.

Embedded Image

Density and topology of the cortical graph. (Left) The 66% density of the cortical matrix (black triangle) is considerably greater than in previous reports (colored points) and is inconsistent with a small-world network. (Right) A bow-tie representation of the high-density cortical matrix. The high-efficiency cortical core has defined relations with the cortical periphery in the two fans.


We derive an exponential distance rule that predicts many binary and weighted features of the cortical network, including efficiency of information transfer, the high specificity of long-distance compared to short-distance connections, wire length minimization, and the existence of a highly interconnected cortical core. We propose a bow-tie representation of the cortex, which combines these features with hierarchical processing.


The exponential distance rule has important implications for understanding scaling properties of the cortex and developing future large-scale dynamic models of the cortex.


Small-world networks provide an appealing description of cortical architecture owing to their capacity for integration and segregation combined with an economy of connectivity. Previous reports of low-density interareal graphs and apparent small-world properties are challenged by data that reveal high-density cortical graphs in which economy of connections is achieved by weight heterogeneity and distance-weight correlations. These properties define a model that predicts many binary and weighted features of the cortical network including a core-periphery, a typical feature of self-organizing information processing systems. Feedback and feedforward pathways between areas exhibit a dual counterstream organization, and their integration into local circuits constrains cortical computation. Here, we propose a bow-tie representation of interareal architecture derived from the hierarchical laminar weights of pathways between the high-efficiency dense core and periphery.

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