How structure sculpts function: Unveiling the contribution of anatomical connectivity to the brain's spontaneous correlation structure

Ruggero G. Bettinardi, G. Deco, V. M. Karlaftis, Tim J. van Hartevelt, H. M. Fernandes, Z. Kourtzi, Morten L. Kringelbach, G. Zamora-López

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


Intrinsic brain activity is characterized by highly organized co-activations between different regions, forming clustered spatial patterns referred to as resting-state networks. The observed coactivation patterns are sustained by the intricate fabric of millions of interconnected neurons constituting the brain's wiring diagram. However, as for other real networks, the relationship between the connectional structure and the emergent collective dynamics still evades complete understanding. Here, we show that it is possible to estimate the expected pair-wise correlations that a network tends to generate thanks to the underlying path structure. We start from the assumption that in order for two nodes to exhibit correlated activity, they must be exposed to similar input patterns from the entire network. We then acknowledge that information rarely spreads only along a unique route but rather travels along all possible paths. In real networks, the strength of local perturbations tends to decay as they propagate away from the sources, leading to a progressive attenuation of the original information content and, thus, of their influence. Accordingly, we define a novel graph measure, topological similarity, which quantifies the propensity of two nodes to dynamically correlate as a function of the resemblance of the overall influences they are expected to receive due to the underlying structure of the network. Applied to the human brain, we find that the similarity of wholenetwork inputs, estimated from the topology of the anatomical connectome, plays an important role in sculpting the backbone pattern of time-average correlations observed at rest.

Original languageEnglish
Article number047409
Number of pages12
JournalChaos: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Nonlinear Science
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 17 Apr 2017
Externally publishedYes

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