The Wisdom of Networks: A General Adaptation and Learning Mechanism of Complex Systems: The Network Core Triggers Fast Responses to Known Stimuli; Innovations Require the Slow Network Periphery and Are Encoded by Core-Remodeling

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I hypothesize that re-occurring prior experience of complex systems mobilizes a fast response, whose attractor is encoded by their strongly connected network core. In contrast, responses to novel stimuli are often slow and require the weakly connected network periphery. Upon repeated stimulus, peripheral network nodes remodel the network core that encodes the attractor of the new response. This “core-periphery learning” theory reviews and generalizes the heretofore fragmented knowledge on attractor formation by neural networks, periphery-driven innovation, and a number of recent reports on the adaptation of protein, neuronal, and social networks. The core-periphery learning theory may increase our understanding of signaling, memory formation, information encoding and decision-making processes. Moreover, the power of network periphery-related “wisdom of crowds” inventing creative, novel responses indicates that deliberative democracy is a slow yet efficient learning strategy developed as the success of a billion-year evolution. Also see the video abstract here:

Original languageEnglish
Article number1700150
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2018



  • adaptation
  • attractors
  • decision-making
  • learning
  • memory retrieval
  • network core and periphery
  • protein dynamics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)

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