Cognitive fitness of cost-efficient brain functional networks

Danielle S. Bassett, Edward T. Bullmore, Andreas Meyer-Lindenberg, José A. Apud, Daniel R. Weinberger, Richard Coppola

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

300 Scopus citations


The human brain's capacity for cognitive function is thought to depend on coordinated activity in sparsely connected, complex networks organized over many scales of space and time. Recent work has demonstrated that human brain networks constructed from neuroimaging data have economical small-world properties that confer high efficiency of information processing at relatively low connection cost. However, it has been unclear how the architecture of complex brain networks functioning at different frequencies can be related to behavioral performance on cognitive tasks. Here, we show that impaired accuracy of working memory could be related to suboptimal cost efficiency of brain functional networks operating in the classical β frequency band, 15-30 Hz.We analyzed brain functional networks derived from magnetoencephalography data recorded during working-memory task performance in 29 healthy volunteers and 28 people with schizophrenia. Networks functioning at higher frequencies had greater global cost efficiency than low-frequency networks in both groups. Superior task performance was positively correlated with global cost efficiency of the β-band network and specifically with cost efficiency of nodes in left lateral parietal and frontal areas. These results are consistent with biophysical models highlighting the importance of β-band oscillations for long-distance functional connections in brain networks and with pathophysiological models of schizophrenia as a dysconnection syndrome. More generally, they echo the saying that "less is more": The information processing performance of a network can be enhanced by a sparse or low-cost configuration with disproportionately high efficiency.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11747-11752
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number28
StatePublished - Jul 14 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Efficiency
  • Graph theory
  • Magnetoencephalography
  • Schizophrenia
  • Working memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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