The Rediscovery of Slowness: Exploring the Timing of Cognition

Morten L. Kringelbach, Anthony R. McIntosh, Petra Ritter, Viktor K. Jirsa, Gustavo Deco

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

50 Citations (Scopus)


Slowness of thought is not necessarily a handicap but could be a signature of optimal brain function. Emerging evidence shows that neuroanatomical and dynamical constraints of the human brain shape its functionality in optimal ways, characterized by slowness during task-based cognition in the context of spontaneous resting-state activity. This activity can be described mechanistically by whole-brain computational modeling that relates directly to optimality in the context of theories arguing for metastability in the brain. We discuss the role for optimal processing of information in the context of cognitive, task-related activity, and propose that combining multi-modal neuroimaging and explicit whole-brain models focused on the timing of functional dynamics can help to uncover fundamental rules of brain function in health and disease. The dynamics of the human brain exhibits 'slowness' during spontaneous activity and task-based cognition.Whole-brain computational modeling can account for the mechanisms underlying this slowness in terms of maximal metastability of the dynamical system.A better understanding of the balance between fast and slow brain processing could lead to fundamental new insights into the brain in health and disease.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1475
Pages (from-to)616-628
Number of pages13
JournalTrends in Cognitive Sciences
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Dynamical systems
  • Resting-state activity
  • Whole-brain modeling

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