We address the problem of understanding the variable abundance of 3-node and 4-node subgraphs (motifs) in complex networks from a dynamical point of view. As a criterion in the determination of the functional significance of a n-node subgraph, we propose an analytic method to measure the stability of the synchronous state (SSS) the subgraph displays. We show that, for undirected graphs, the SSS is correlated with the relative abundance, while in directed graphs the correlation exists only for some specific motifs.
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