Brain, Biology and Behavior, Center for


Date of this Version


Document Type



The Journal of Neuroscience, September 2, 2020 • 40(36):6949–6968.


open access


Functional connectivity (FC) studies have identified at least two large-scale neural systems that constitute cognitive control networks, the frontoparietal network (FPN) and cingulo-opercular network (CON). Control networks are thought to support goal-directed cognition and behavior. It was previously shown that the FPN flexibly shifts its global connectivity pattern according to task goal, consistent with a “flexible hub” mechanism for cognitive control. Our aim was to build on this finding to develop a functional cartography (a multimetric profile) of control networks in terms of dynamic network properties. We quantified network properties in (male and female) humans using a high-control-demand cognitive paradigm involving switching among 64 task sets. We hypothesized that cognitive control is enacted by the FPN and CON via distinct but complementary roles reflected in network dynamics. Consistent with a flexible “coordinator” mechanism, FPN connections were varied across tasks, while maintaining within-network connectivity to aid cross-region coordination. Consistent with a flexible “switcher” mechanism, CON regions switched to other networks in a task-dependent manner, driven primarily by reduced within-network connections to other CON regions. This pattern of results suggests FPN acts as a dynamic, global coordinator of goal-relevant information, while CON transiently disbands to lend processing resources to other goal-relevant networks. This cartography of network dynamics reveals a dissociation between two prominent cognitive control networks, suggesting complementary mechanisms underlying goal-directed cognition.