Navegação de redes cerebrais: mero acaso, fortuita necessidade ou design inteligente?

quarta-feira, agosto 08, 2018

Navigation of brain networks

Caio Seguin, Martijn P. van den Heuvel, and Andrew Zalesky

PNAS June 12, 2018. 115 (24) 6297-6302; published ahead of print May 30, 2018.

Edited by Edward T. Bullmore, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom, and accepted by Editorial Board Member Michael S. Gazzaniga May 7, 2018 (received for review January 24, 2018)


We show that the combination of topology and geometry in mammalian cortical networks allows for near-optimal decentralized communication under navigation routing. Following a simple propagation rule based on local knowledge of the distance between cortical regions, we demonstrate that brain networks can be successfully navigated with efficiency that is comparable to shortest paths routing. This finding helps to conciliate the major progress achieved over more than a decade of connectomics research, under the assumption of communication via shortest paths, with recent questions raised by the biologically unrealistic requirements involved in the computation of optimal routes. Our results reiterate the importance of the brain’s spatial embedding, suggesting a three-way relationship between connectome geometry, topology, and communication.


Understanding the mechanisms of neural communication in large-scale brain networks remains a major goal in neuroscience. We investigated whether navigation is a parsimonious routing model for connectomics. Navigating a network involves progressing to the next node that is closest in distance to a desired destination. We developed a measure to quantify navigation efficiency and found that connectomes in a range of mammalian species (human, mouse, and macaque) can be successfully navigated with near-optimal efficiency (>80% of optimal efficiency for typical connection densities). Rewiring network topology or repositioning network nodes resulted in 45–60% reductions in navigation performance. We found that the human connectome cannot be progressively randomized or clusterized to result in topologies with substantially improved navigation performance (>5%), suggesting a topological balance between regularity and randomness that is conducive to efficient navigation. Navigation was also found to (i) promote a resource-efficient distribution of the information traffic load, potentially relieving communication bottlenecks, and (ii) explain significant variation in functional connectivity. Unlike commonly studied communication strategies in connectomics, navigation does not mandate assumptions about global knowledge of network topology. We conclude that the topology and geometry of brain networks are conducive to efficient decentralized communication.

connectome neural communication network navigation complex networks