Biological Cybernetics

, Volume 90, Issue 5, pp 311–317 | Cite as

Edge vulnerability in neural and metabolic networks

  • Marcus Kaiser
  • Claus C. Hilgetag


Biological networks, such as cellular metabolic pathways or networks of corticocortical connections in the brain, are intricately organized, yet remarkably robust toward structural damage. Whereas many studies have investigated specific aspects of robustness, such as molecular mechanisms of repair, this article focuses more generally on how local structural features in networks may give rise to their global stability. In many networks the failure of single connections may be more likely than the extinction of entire nodes, yet no analysis of edge importance (edge vulnerability) has been provided so far for biological networks. We tested several measures for identifying vulnerable edges and compared their prediction performance in biological and artificial networks. Among the tested measures, edge frequency in all shortest paths of a network yielded a particularly high correlation with vulnerability and identified intercluster connections in biological but not in random and scale-free benchmark networks. We discuss different local and global network patterns and the edge vulnerability resulting from them.


Network vulnerability Brain networks Small world Cluster Edge betweenness 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.International University BremenSchool of Engineering and ScienceBremenGermany

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