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The brainstem reticular formation is a small-world, not scale-free, network

Humphries, M.D., Gurney, K. and Prescott, T.J. (2006) The brainstem reticular formation is a small-world, not scale-free, network. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 273 (1585). pp. 503-511. ISSN 1471-2954


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Recently, it has been demonstrated that several complex systems may have simple graph-theoretic characterizations as so-called ‘small-world’ and ‘scale-free’ networks. These networks have also been applied to the gross neural connectivity between primate cortical areas and the nervous system of Caenorhabditis elegans. Here, we extend this work to a specific neural circuit of the vertebrate brain—the medial reticular formation (RF) of the brainstem—and, in doing so, we have made three key contributions. First, this work constitutes the first model (and quantitative review) of this important brain structure for over three decades. Second, we have developed the first graph-theoretic analysis of vertebrate brain connectivity at the neural network level. Third, we propose simple metrics to quantitatively assess the extent to which the networks studied are small-world or scale-free. We conclude that the medial RF is configured to create small-world (implying coherent rapid-processing capabilities), but not scale-free, type networks under assumptions which are amenable to quantitative measurement.

Item Type: Article
Copyright, Publisher and Additional Information: © 2006 The Royal Society
Keywords: reticular formation, small world, scale-free, networks, computational neuroanatomy
Institution: The University of Sheffield
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Science (Sheffield) > Department of Psychology (Sheffield)
Depositing User: Repository Officer
Date Deposited: 19 Jun 2006
Last Modified: 12 Jul 2016 07:37
Published Version: http://www.journals.royalsoc.ac.uk/openurl.asp?gen...
Status: Published
Publisher: The Royal Society
Refereed: Yes
Identification Number: 10.1098/rspb.2005.3354
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/1315

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