2022-01-21Zeitschriftenartikel DOI: 10.3389/fnsys.2021.688424
On the Importance of Being Flexible: Dynamic Brain Networks and Their Potential Functional Significances
In this theoretical review, we begin by discussing brains and minds from a dynamical systems perspective, and then go on to describe methods for characterizing the flexibility of dynamic networks. We discuss how varying degrees and kinds of flexibility may be adaptive (or maladaptive) in different contexts, specifically focusing on measures related to either more disjoint or cohesive dynamics. While disjointed flexibility may be useful for assessing neural entropy, cohesive flexibility may potentially serve as a proxy for self-organized criticality as a fundamental property enabling adaptive behavior in complex systems. Particular attention is given to recent studies in which flexibility methods have been used to investigate neurological and cognitive maturation, as well as the breakdown of conscious processing under varying levels of anesthesia. We further discuss how these findings and methods might be contextualized within the Free Energy Principle with respect to the fundamentals of brain organization and biological functioning more generally, and describe potential methodological advances from this paradigm. Finally, with relevance to computational psychiatry, we propose a research program for obtaining a better understanding of ways that dynamic networks may relate to different forms of psychological flexibility, which may be the single most important factor for ensuring human flourishing.
This article was supported by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the Open Access Publication Fund of Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.