Understanding the network structure of long distance pathways in the brain is a necessary step towards developing an insight into the brain's function, organization and evolution. Dense global subnetworks of these pathways have often been studied, primarily due to their functional implications. Instead we study sparse local subnetworks of the pathways to establish the role of a brain area in enabling shortest path communication between its nonadjacent topological neighbours. We propose a novel metric to measure the topological communication load on a vertex due to its immediate neighbourhood, and show that in terms of distribution of this local communication load, a network of Macaque long distance pathways is substantially different from other real world networks and random graph models. Macaque network contains the entire range of local subnetworks, from star-like networks to clique-like networks, while other networks tend to contain a relatively small range of subnetworks. Further, sparse local subnetworks in the Macaque network are not only found across topographical super-Areas, e.g., lobes, but also within a super-Area, arguing that there is conservation of even relatively short-distance pathways. To establish the communication role of a vertex we borrow the concept of brokerage from social science, and present the different types of brokerage roles that brain areas play, highlighting that not only the thalamus, but also cingulate gyrus and insula often act as "relays" for areas in the neocortex. These and other analysis of communication load and roles of the sparse subnetworks of the Macaque brain provide new insights into the organisation of its pathways.
Singh, R., Nagar, S., & Nanavati, A. A. (2015). Analysing local sparseness in the macaque brain network. PLoS ONE, 10(10). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0138148