Large-scale cortical networks exhibit characteristic topological properties that shape communication between brain regions and global cortical dynamics. Analysis of complex networks allows the description of connectedness, distance, clustering, and centrality that reveal different aspects of how the network’s nodes communicate. Here, we focus on a novel analysis of complex walks in a series of mammalian cortical networks that model potential dynamics of information flow between individual brain regions. We introduce two new measures called absorption and driftness. Absorption is the average length of random walks between any two nodes, and takes into account all paths that may diffuse activity throughout the network. Driftness is the ratio between absorption and the corresponding shortest path length. For a given node of the network, we also define four related measurements, namely inand out-absorption as well as inand out-driftness, as the averages of the corresponding measures from all nodes to that node, and from that node to all nodes, respectively. We find that the cat thalamo-cortical system incorporates features of two classic network topologies, Erdös-Rényi graphs with respect to in-absorption and in-driftness, and configuration models with respect to out-absorption and out-driftness. Moreover, taken together these four measures separate the network nodes based on broad functional roles (visual, auditory, somatomotor, and frontolimbic).
Costa, L. da F., Batista, J. L. B., & Ascoli, G. A. (2011). Communication structure of cortical networks. Frontiers in Computational Neuroscience, 5. https://doi.org/10.3389/fncom.2011.00006