The brain recruits neuronal populations in a temporally coordinated manner in task and at rest. However, the extent to which large-scale networks exhibit their own organized temporal dynamics is unclear. We use an approach designed to find repeating network patterns in whole-brain resting fMRI data, where networks are defined as graphs of interacting brain areas. We find that the transitions between networks are nonrandom, with certain networks more likely to occur after others. Further, this nonrandom sequencing is itself hierarchically organized, revealing two distinct sets of networks, or metastates, that the brain has a tendency to cycle within. One metastate is associated with sensory and motor regions, and the other involves areas related to higher order cognition. Moreover, we find that the proportion of time that a subject spends in each brain network and metastate is a consistent subject-specific measure, is heritable, and shows a significant relationship with cognitive traits.

Original publication




Journal article


Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

Publication Date





12827 - 12832


Oxford Centre for Human Brain Activity (OHBA), Wellcome Centre for Integrative Neuroimaging, Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford, Oxford OX3 7JX, United Kingdom;