Functional alignment with anatomical networks is associated with cognitive flexibility

John D. Medaglia, Weiyu Huang, Elisabeth A. Karuza, Apoorva Kelkar, Sharon L. Thompson-Schill, Alejandro Ribeiro, Danielle S. Bassett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

97 Scopus citations


Cognitive flexibility describes the human ability to switch between modes of mental function to achieve goals. Mental switching is accompanied by transient changes in brain activity, which must occur atop an anatomical architecture that bridges disparate cortical and subcortical regions via underlying white matter tracts. However, an integrated understanding of how white matter networks might constrain brain dynamics during cognitive processes requiring flexibility has remained elusive. Here, to address this challenge, we applied emerging tools from graph signal processing to examine whether blood oxygen level-dependent signals measured at each point in time correspond to complex underlying anatomical networks in 28 individuals performing a perceptual task that probed cognitive flexibility. We found that the alignment between functional signals and the architecture of the underlying white matter network was associated with greater cognitive flexibility across subjects. By computing a concise measure using multi-modal neuroimaging data, we uncovered an integrated structure-function relation of human behaviour.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)156-164
Number of pages9
JournalNature Human Behaviour
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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