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Human navigation network: The intrinsic functional organization and behavioral relevance

Kong, X., Wang, X., Pu, Y., Huang, L., Hao, X., Zhen, Z., & Liu, J. (2016). Human navigation network: The intrinsic functional organization and behavioral relevance. Brain Structure & Function. Advance online publication. doi:10.1007/s00429-016-1243-8.
Spatial navigation is a crucial ability for living. Previous work has revealed multiple distributed brain regions associated with human navigation. However, little is known about how these regions work together as a network (referred to as navigation network) to support flexible navigation. In a novel protocol, we combined neuroimaging meta-analysis, and functional connectivity and behavioral data from the same subjects. Briefly, we first constructed the navigation network for each participant, by combining a large-scale neuroimaging meta-analysis (with the Neurosynth) and resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging. Then, we investigated multiple topological properties of the navigation networks, including small-worldness, modularity, and highly connected hubs. Finally, we explored the behavioral relevance of these intrinsic properties in a large sample of healthy young adults (N = 190). We found that navigation networks showed small-world and modular organization at global level. More importantly, we found that increased small-worldness and modularity of the navigation network were associated with better navigation ability. Finally, we found that the right retrosplenial complex (RSC) acted as one of the hubs in the navigation network, and that higher betweenness of this region correlated with better navigation ability, suggesting a critical role of the RSC in modulating the navigation network in human brain. Our study takes one of the first steps toward understanding the underlying organization of the navigation network. Moreover, these findings suggest the potential applications of the novel approach to investigating functionally meaningful networks in human brain and their relations to the behavioral impairments in the aging and psychiatric patients.
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The Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics is an institute of the German Max Planck Society. Our mission is to undertake basic research into the psychological,social and biological foundations of language. The goal is to understand how our minds and brains process language, how language interacts with other aspects of mind, and how we can learn languages of quite different types.

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