Living Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Computational Neuroscience

pp 1-21

Date: Latest Version

Network Theory in Neuroscience

  • David PapoAffiliated withCenter of Biomedical Technology Email author 
  • , Javier M. BuldúAffiliated withUniversidad Rey Juan Carlos
  • , Stefano BoccalettiAffiliated withCNR-Institute of Complex Systems


Complex network theory in neuroscience; Graph theory in neuroscience


Network theory is a branch of mathematics concerned with the analysis of the structure of graphs, the mathematical abstraction of networks. Since the beginning of the twenty-first century, it has become an applied discipline due to the availability of large datasets for social, technological, and biological systems. Although network theory was initially restricted to topological analysis, it has soon become a tool for understanding the emergence, functioning, and evolution of networks and the dynamical processes occurring on them. The application of network theory to neuroscience and, more specifically, to the analysis of brain structure and function represents a qualitatively different view of brain activity and brain-behavior mapping, shifting from a computerlike to a complex system vision of the brain, where networks are endowed with properties which stem in a nontrivial way from those of their con ...

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