Describing functional diversity of brain regions and brain networks.
ABSTRACT: Despite the general acceptance that functional specialization plays an important role in brain function, there is little consensus about its extent in the brain. We sought to advance the understanding of this question by employing a data-driven approach that capitalizes on the existence of large databases of neuroimaging data. We quantified the diversity of activation in brain regions as a way to characterize the degree of functional specialization. To do so, brain activations were classified in terms of task domains, such as vision, attention, and language, which determined a region's functional fingerprint. We found that the degree of diversity varied considerably across the brain. We also quantified novel properties of regions and of networks that inform our understanding of several task-positive and task-negative networks described in the literature, including defining functional fingerprints for entire networks and measuring their functional assortativity, namely the degree to which they are composed of regions with similar functional fingerprints. Our results demonstrate that some brain networks exhibit strong assortativity, whereas other networks consist of relatively heterogeneous parts. In sum, rather than characterizing the contributions of individual brain regions using task-based functional attributions, we instead quantified their dispositional tendencies, and related those to each region's affiliative properties in both task-positive and task-negative contexts.
Project description:The occurrence of wide-scale neuroplasticity in the injured human brain raises hopes for biomarkers to guide personalised treatment. At the individual level, functional reorganisation has proven challenging to quantify using current techniques that are optimised for population-based analyses. In this cross-sectional study, we acquired functional MRI scans in 44 patients (22 men, 22 women, mean age: 39.4?±?14?years) with a language-dominant hemisphere brain tumour prior to surgery and 23 healthy volunteers (11 men, 12 women, mean age: 36.3?±?10.9?years) during performance of a verbal fluency task. We applied a recently developed approach to characterise the normal range of functional connectivity patterns during task performance in healthy controls. Next, we statistically quantified differences from the normal in individual patients and evaluated factors driving these differences. We show that the functional connectivity of brain regions involved in language fluency identifies "fingerprints" of brain plasticity in individual patients, not detected using standard task-evoked analyses. In contrast to healthy controls, patients with a tumour in their language dominant hemisphere showed highly variable fingerprints that uniquely distinguished individuals. Atypical fingerprints were influenced by tumour grade and tumour location relative to the typical fluency-activated network. Our findings show how alterations in brain networks can be visualised and statistically quantified from connectivity fingerprints in individual brains. We propose that connectivity fingerprints offer a statistical metric of individually-specific network organisation through which behaviourally-relevant adaptations could be formally quantified and monitored across individuals, treatments and time.
Project description:The resting brain exhibits coherent patterns of spontaneous low-frequency BOLD fluctuations. These so-called resting-state functional connectivity (RSFC) networks are posited to reflect intrinsic representations of functional systems commonly implicated in cognitive function. Yet, the direct relationship between RSFC and the BOLD response induced by task performance remains unclear. Here we examine the relationship between a region's pattern of RSFC across participants and that same region's level of BOLD activation during an Eriksen Flanker task. To achieve this goal we employed a voxel-matched regression method, which assessed whether the magnitude of task-induced activity at each brain voxel could be predicted by measures of RSFC strength for the same voxel, across 26 healthy adults. We examined relationships between task-induced activation and RSFC strength for six different seed regions [Fox, M.D., Snyder, A.Z., Vincent, J.L., Corbetta, M., Van Essen, D.C., Raichle, M.E., 2005. The human brain is intrinsically organized into dynamic, anticorrelated functional networks. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U. S. A. 102, 9673-9678.], as well as the "default mode" and "task-positive" resting-state networks in their entirety. Our results indicate that, for a number of brain regions, inter-individual differences in task-induced BOLD activity were predicted by one of two resting-state properties: (1) the region's positive connectivity strength with the task-positive network, or (2) its negative connectivity with the default mode network. Strikingly, most of the regions exhibiting a significant relationship between their RSFC properties and task-induced BOLD activity were located in transition zones between the default mode and task-positive networks. These results suggest that a common mechanism governs many brain regions' neural activity during rest and its neural activity during task performance.
Project description:Large-scale analysis of functional MRI data has revealed that brain regions can be grouped into stable "networks" or communities. In many instances, the communities are characterized as relatively disjoint. Although recent work indicates that brain regions may participate in multiple communities (for example, hub regions), the extent of community overlap is poorly understood. To address these issues, here we investigated large-scale brain networks based on "rest" and task human functional MRI data by employing a mixed-membership Bayesian model that allows each brain region to belong to all communities simultaneously with varying membership strengths. The approach allowed us to 1) compare the structure of disjoint and overlapping communities; 2) determine the relationship between functional diversity (how diverse is a region's functional activation repertoire) and membership diversity (how diverse is a region's affiliation to communities); 3) characterize overlapping community structure; 4) characterize the degree of non-modularity in brain networks; 5) study the distribution of "bridges", including bottleneck and hub bridges. Our findings revealed the existence of dense community overlap that was not limited to "special" hubs. Furthermore, the findings revealed important differences between community organization during rest and during specific task states. Overall, we suggest that dense overlapping communities are well suited to capture the flexible and task dependent mapping between brain regions and their functions.
Project description:During linguistic processing, a set of brain regions on the lateral surfaces of the left frontal, temporal, and parietal cortices exhibit robust responses. These areas display highly correlated activity while a subject rests or performs a naturalistic language comprehension task, suggesting that they form an integrated functional system. Evidence suggests that this system is spatially and functionally distinct from other systems that support high-level cognition in humans. Yet, how different regions within this system might be recruited dynamically during task performance is not well understood. Here we use network methods, applied to fMRI data collected from 22 human subjects performing a language comprehension task, to reveal the dynamic nature of the language system. We observe the presence of a stable core of brain regions, predominantly located in the left hemisphere, that consistently coactivate with one another. We also observe the presence of a more flexible periphery of brain regions, predominantly located in the right hemisphere, that coactivate with different regions at different times. However, the language functional ROIs in the angular gyrus and the anterior temporal lobe were notable exceptions to this trend. By highlighting the temporal dimension of language processing, these results suggest a trade-off between a region's specialization and its capacity for flexible network reconfiguration.
Project description:Cognitive development is thought to depend on the refinement and specialization of functional circuits over time, yet little is known about how this process unfolds over the course of childhood. Here we investigated growth trajectories of functional brain circuits and tested an interactive specialization model of neurocognitive development which posits that the refinement of task-related functional networks is driven by a shared history of co-activation between cortical regions. We tested this model in a longitudinal cohort of 30 children with behavioral and task-related functional brain imaging data at multiple time points spanning childhood and adolescence, focusing on the maturation of parietal circuits associated with numerical problem solving and learning. Hierarchical linear modeling revealed selective strengthening as well as weakening of functional brain circuits. Connectivity between parietal and prefrontal cortex decreased over time, while connectivity within posterior brain regions, including intra-hemispheric and inter-hemispheric parietal connectivity, as well as parietal connectivity with ventral temporal occipital cortex regions implicated in quantity manipulation and numerical symbol recognition, increased over time. Our study provides insights into the longitudinal maturation of functional circuits in the human brain and the mechanisms by which interactive specialization shapes children's cognitive development and learning.
Project description:Hemispheric specialization of the human brain is a marker of successful neurodevelopment. Altered brain asymmetry that has been repeatedly reported in schizophrenia may represent consequences of disrupted neurodevelopment in the disorder. However, a complete picture of functional specialization in the schizophrenic brain and its connectional substrates is yet to be unveiled.To quantify intrinsic hemispheric specialization at cortical and subcortical levels and to reveal potential disease effects in schizophrenia.Resting-state functional connectivity magnetic resonance imaging has been previously used to quantitatively measure hemispheric specialization in healthy individuals in a reliable manner. We quantified the intrinsic hemispheric specialization at the whole brain level in 31 patients with schizophrenia and 37 demographically matched healthy controls from November 28, 2007, through June 29, 2010, using resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging.The caudate nucleus and cortical regions with connections to the caudate nucleus had markedly abnormal hemispheric specialization in schizophrenia. Compared with healthy controls, patients exhibited weaker specialization in the left, but the opposite pattern in the right, caudate nucleus (P?<?.001). Patients with schizophrenia also had a disruption of the interhemispheric coordination among the cortical regions with connections to the caudate nucleus. A linear classifier based on the specialization of the caudate nucleus distinguished patients from controls with a classification accuracy of 74% (with a sensitivity of 68% and a specificity of 78%).These data suggest that hemispheric specialization could serve as a potential imaging biomarker of schizophrenia that, compared with task-based functional magnetic resonance imaging measures, is less prone to the confounding effects of variation in task compliance, cognitive ability, and command of language.
Project description:A major contribution to our understanding of the aging brain comes either from studies comparing young with older adults or from studies investigating pathological aging and using the healthy aging older adults as control group. In consequence, we know relatively well, what distinguishes young from old brains or pathological aging from healthy but that does not mean that we really understand the structural and functional transformations characterizing the healthy aging brain. By analyzing task-free fMRI data from a large cross-sectional sample of 186 older adults (mean age = 70.4, 97 female), we aimed to elucidate age-related changes in the intrinsically active functional architecture of the brain in our study group covering an age range from 65 to 85 years. First, we conducted an intrinsic connectivity contrast analysis (ICC) in order to detect the brain regions whose degree of connectedness was significantly correlated with increasing age. Secondly, using connectivity analyses we investigated how the clusters highlighted by the ICC analysis functionally related to the other major resting-state networks. The most important finding was the right anterior insula's loss of connectedness in the older participants of the study group because of the region's causal role in the switching from the task-negative to the task-positive state of the brain. Further, we found a higher functional dedifferentiation of two of the brain's major intrinsic connectivity networks, the DMN, and the cingulo-opercular network, caused by a reduction of functional connection strength, especially in the frontal regions. At last, we showed that all these age-related changes have the potential to impair older adult's performance of working memory tasks.
Project description:Functional brain networks emerge and dissipate over a primarily static anatomical foundation. The dynamic basis of these networks is inter-regional communication involving local and distal regions. It is assumed that inter-regional distances play a pivotal role in modulating network dynamics. Using three different neuroimaging modalities, 6 datasets were evaluated to determine whether experimental manipulations asymmetrically affect functional relationships based on the distance between brain regions in human participants. Contrary to previous assumptions, here we show that short- and long-range connections are equally likely to strengthen or weaken in response to task demands. Additionally, connections between homotopic areas are the most stable and less likely to change compared to any other type of connection. Our results point to a functional connectivity landscape characterized by fluid transitions between local specialization and global integration. This ability to mediate functional properties irrespective of spatial distance may engender a diverse repertoire of cognitive processes when faced with a dynamic environment.
Project description:Recent imaging connectomics studies have demonstrated that the spontaneous human brain functional networks derived from resting-state functional MRI (R-fMRI) include many non-trivial topological properties, such as highly efficient small-world architecture and densely connected hub regions. However, very little is known about dynamic functional connectivity (D-FC) patterns of spontaneous human brain networks during rest and about how these spontaneous brain dynamics are constrained by the underlying structural connectivity. Here, we combined sub-second multiband R-fMRI data with graph-theoretical approaches to comprehensively investigate the dynamic characteristics of the topological organization of human whole-brain functional networks, and then employed diffusion imaging data in the same participants to further explore the associated structural substrates. At the connection level, we found that human whole-brain D-FC patterns spontaneously fluctuated over time, while homotopic D-FC exhibited high connectivity strength and low temporal variability. At the network level, dynamic functional networks exhibited time-varying but evident small-world and assortativity architecture, with several regions (e.g., insula, sensorimotor cortex and medial prefrontal cortex) emerging as functionally persistent hubs (i.e., highly connected regions) while possessing large temporal variability in their degree centrality. Finally, the temporal characteristics (i.e., strength and variability) of the connectional and nodal properties of the dynamic brain networks were significantly associated with their structural counterparts. Collectively, we demonstrate the economical, efficient, and flexible characteristics of dynamic functional coordination in large-scale human brain networks during rest, and highlight their relationship with underlying structural connectivity, which deepens our understandings of spontaneous brain network dynamics in humans.
Project description:Episodic memory is thought to critically depend on interaction of the hippocampus with distributed brain regions [1-3]. Specific contributions of distinct networks have been hypothesized, with the hippocampal posterior-medial (HPM) network implicated in the recollection of highly precise contextual and spatial information [3-6]. Current evidence for HPM specialization is mostly indirect, derived from correlative measures such as neural activity recordings. Here we tested the causal role of the HPM network in recollection using network-targeted noninvasive brain stimulation in humans, which has previously been shown to increase functional connectivity within the HPM network . Effects of multiple-day electromagnetic stimulation were assessed using an object-location memory task that segregated recollection precision from general recollection success. HPM network-targeted stimulation produced lasting (?24 hr) enhancement of recollection precision, without effects on general success. Canonical neural correlates of recollection [8-10] were also modulated by stimulation. Late-positive evoked potential amplitude and theta-alpha oscillatory power were reduced, suggesting that stimulation can improve memory through enhanced reactivation of detailed visuospatial information at retrieval. The HPM network was thus specifically implicated in the processing of fine-grained memory detail, supporting functional specialization of hippocampal-cortical networks. These findings demonstrate that brain networks can be causally linked to distinct and specific neurocognitive functions and suggest mechanisms for long-lasting changes in memory due to network-targeted stimulation.