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Concept: Heterarchy


The goal of the study was to demonstrate a hierarchical structure of resting state activity in the healthy brain using a data-driven clustering algorithm.

Concepts: Heterarchy, Human, Government, Hierarchy, Structure


The “cock-a-doodle-doo” crowing of roosters, which symbolizes the break of dawn in many cultures, is controlled by the circadian clock. When one rooster announces the break of dawn, others in the vicinity immediately follow. Chickens are highly social animals, and they develop a linear and fixed hierarchy in small groups. We found that when chickens were housed in small groups, the top-ranking rooster determined the timing of predawn crowing. Specifically, the top-ranking rooster always started to crow first, followed by its subordinates, in descending order of social rank. When the top-ranking rooster was physically removed from a group, the second-ranking rooster initiated crowing. The presence of a dominant rooster significantly reduced the number of predawn crows in subordinates. However, the number of crows induced by external stimuli was independent of social rank, confirming that subordinates have the ability to crow. Although the timing of subordinates' predawn crowing was strongly dependent on that of the top-ranking rooster, free-running periods of body temperature rhythms differed among individuals, and crowing rhythm did not entrain to a crowing sound stimulus. These results indicate that in a group situation, the top-ranking rooster has priority to announce the break of dawn, and that subordinate roosters are patient enough to wait for the top-ranking rooster’s first crow every morning and thus compromise their circadian clock for social reasons.

Concepts: Structure, Sociology, Hypothalamus, Heterarchy, Social stratification, Hierarchy, Rooster


Hierarchical organization is widespread in the societies of humans and other animals, both in social structure and in decision-making contexts. In the case of collective motion, the majority of case studies report that dominant individuals lead group movements, in agreement with the common conflation of the terms “dominance” and “leadership.” From a theoretical perspective, if social relationships influence interactions during collective motion, then social structure could also affect leadership in large, swarm-like groups, such as fish shoals and bird flocks. Here we use computer-vision-based methods and miniature GPS tracking to study, respectively, social dominance and in-flight leader-follower relations in pigeons. In both types of behavior we find hierarchically structured networks of directed interactions. However, instead of being conflated, dominance and leadership hierarchies are completely independent of each other. Although dominance is an important aspect of variation among pigeons, correlated with aggression and access to food, our results imply that the stable leadership hierarchies in the air must be based on a different set of individual competences. In addition to confirming the existence of independent and context-specific hierarchies in pigeons, we succeed in setting out a robust, scalable method for the automated analysis of dominance relationships, and thus of social structure, applicable to many species. Our results, as well as our methods, will help to incorporate the broader context of animal social organization into the study of collective behavior.

Concepts: Heterarchy, Scientific method, Maslow's hierarchy of needs, Government, Social stratification, Structure, Hierarchy, Sociology


PURPOSE: Despite the importance of leadership in interprofessional health care teams, little is understood about how it is enacted. The literature emphasizes a collaborative approach of shared leadership, but this may be challenging for clinicians working within the traditionally hierarchical health care system. METHOD: Using case study methodology, the authors collected observation and interview data from five interprofessional health care teams working at teaching hospitals in urban Ontario, Canada. They interviewed 46 health care providers and conducted 139 hours of observation from January 2008 through June 2009. RESULTS: Although the members of the interprofessional teams agreed about the importance of collaborative leadership and discussed ways in which their teams tried to achieve it, evidence indicated that the actual enactment of collaborative leadership was a challenge. The participating physicians indicated a belief that their teams functioned nonhierarchically, but reports from the nonphysician clinicians and the authors' observation data revealed that hierarchical behaviors persisted, even from those who most vehemently denied the presence of hierarchies on their teams. CONCLUSIONS: A collaborative approach to leadership may be challenging for interprofessional teams embedded in traditional health care, education, and medical-legal systems that reinforce the idea that physicians sit at the top of the hierarchy. By openly recognizing and discussing the tensions between traditional and interprofessional discourses of collaborative leadership, it may be possible to help interprofessional teams, physicians and clinicians alike, work together more effectively.

Concepts: Heterarchy, Maslow's hierarchy of needs, Methodology, Healthcare, Hierarchy, Hospital, Medicine, Health care


Social-ecological systems research suffers from a disconnect between hierarchical (top-down or bottom-up) and network (peer-to-peer) analyses. The concept of the heterarchy unifies these perspectives in a single framework. Here, I review the history and application of ‘heterarchy’ in neuroscience, ecology, archaeology, multiagent control systems, business and organisational studies, and politics. Recognising complex system architecture as a continuum along vertical and lateral axes (‘flat versus hierarchical’ and ‘individual versus networked’) suggests four basic types of heterarchy: reticulated, polycentric, pyramidal, and individualistic. Each has different implications for system functioning and resilience. Systems can also shift predictably and abruptly between architectures. Heterarchies suggest new ways of contextualising and generalising from case studies and new methods for analysing complex structure-function relations.

Concepts: Heterarchy, Systems, Hierarchy, System, Complex system, Structure, Greek loanwords, Systems theory


Differential network analysis is an important way to understand network rewiring involved in disease progression and development. Building differential networks from multiple `omics data provides insight into the holistic differences of the interactive system under different patient-specific groups. DINGO was developed to infer group-specific dependencies and build differential networks. However, DINGO and other existing tools are limited to analyze data arising from a single platform, and modeling each of the multiple ‘omics data independently does not account for the hierarchical structure of the data.

Concepts: Heterarchy, Computer network, Functional genomics, Building, Differential, Hierarchy, Structure


Interaction computing is inspired by the observation that cell metabolic/regulatory systems construct order dynamically, through constrained interactions between their components and based on a wide range of possible inputs and environmental conditions. The goals of this work are to (i) identify and understand mathematically the natural subsystems and hierarchical relations in natural systems enabling this and (ii) use the resulting insights to define a new model of computation based on interactions that is useful for both biology and computation. The dynamical characteristics of the cellular pathways studied in systems biology relate, mathematically, to the computational characteristics of automata derived from them, and their internal symmetry structures to computational power. Finite discrete automata models of biological systems such as the lac operon, the Krebs cycle and p53-mdm2 genetic regulation constructed from systems biology models have canonically associated algebraic structures (their transformation semigroups). These contain permutation groups (local substructures exhibiting symmetry) that correspond to ‘pools of reversibility’. These natural subsystems are related to one another in a hierarchical manner by the notion of ‘weak control’. We present natural subsystems arising from several biological examples and their weak control hierarchies in detail. Finite simple non-Abelian groups are found in biological examples and can be harnessed to realize finitary universal computation. This allows ensembles of cells to achieve any desired finitary computational transformation, depending on external inputs, via suitably constrained interactions. Based on this, interaction machines that grow and change their structure recursively are introduced and applied, providing a natural model of computation driven by interactions.

Concepts: Systems theory, Heterarchy, DNA, System, Mathematics, Hierarchy, Group, Structure


In animal groups where certain individuals have disproportionate influence over collective decisions, the whole group’s performance may suffer if these individuals possess inaccurate information. Whether in such situations leaders can be replaced in their roles by better-informed group mates represents an important question in understanding the adaptive consequences of collective decision-making. Here, we use a clock-shifting procedure to predictably manipulate the directional error in navigational information possessed by established leaders within hierarchically structured flocks of homing pigeons (Columba livia). We demonstrate that in the majority of cases when leaders hold inaccurate information they lose their influence over the flock. In these cases, inaccurate information is filtered out through the rearrangement of hierarchical positions, preventing errors by former leaders from propagating down the hierarchy. Our study demonstrates that flexible decision-making structures can be valuable in situations where ‘bad’ information is introduced by otherwise influential individuals.

Concepts: Homing pigeon, Heterarchy, Maslow's hierarchy of needs, Domestic Pigeon, Columbidae, Rock Pigeon, Hierarchy, Structure


Although biomimetic designs are expected to play a key role in exploring future structural materials, facile fabrication of bulk biomimetic materials under ambient conditions remains a major challenge. Here, we describe a mesoscale “assembly-and-mineralization” approach inspired by the natural process in mollusks to fabricate bulk synthetic nacre that highly resembles both the chemical composition and the hierarchical structure of natural nacre. The millimeter-thick synthetic nacre consists of alternating organic layers and aragonite platelet layers (91 weight %) and exhibits good ultimate strength and fracture toughness. This predesigned matrix-directed mineralization method represents a rational strategy for the preparation of robust composite materials with hierarchically ordered structures, where various constituents are adaptable, including brittle and heat-labile materials.

Concepts: Fracture toughness, Composite material, Heterarchy, Nacre, Tonic, Materials science, Hierarchy, Structure


Fused-silica packaging glass fabricated with a hierarchical structure by integrating small (ultrathin nanorods) and large (honeycomb nanowalls) structures was demonstrated with exceptional light-harvesting solar performance, which is attributed to the subwavelength feature of the nanorods and an efficiently scattering ability of honeycomb nanowalls. Si solar cells covered with the hierarchically structured packaging glass exhibit enhanced conversion efficiency by 5.2% at normal incidence, and the enhancement went up to 46% at the incident angle of 60ยบ. The hierarchical structured packaging glass shows excellent self-cleaning characteristics: 98.8% of the efficiency is maintained after 6 weeks of outdoor exposure, indicating that the nanostructured surface effectively repels polluting dust/particles. The presented self-cleaning omnidirectional light-harvesting design using the hierarchical structured packaging glass would be a universal scheme for practical solar applications.

Concepts: Human, Heterarchy, Angle of incidence, Total internal reflection, Angle, Solar cell, Hierarchy, Structure