A Complex Systems Perspective on Neuroimaging Studies of Behavior and Its Disorders

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30 Citations (Scopus)


The study of complex systems deals with emergent behavior that arises as a result of nonlinear spatiotemporal interactions between a large number of components both within the system, as well as between the system and its environment. There is a strong case to be made that neural systems as well as their emergent behavior and disorders can be studied within the framework of complexity science. In particular, the field of neuroimaging has begun to apply both theoretical and experimental procedures originating in complexity science-usually in parallel with traditional methodologies. Here, we illustrate the basic properties that characterize complex systems and evaluate how they relate to what we have learned about brain structure and function from neuroimaging experiments. We then argue in favor of adopting a complex systems-based methodology in the study of neuroimaging, alongside appropriate experimental paradigms, and with minimal influences from noncomplex system approaches. Our exposition includes a review of the fundamental mathematical concepts, combined with practical examples and a compilation of results from the literature.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1073858421994784
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 16 Feb 2021


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