University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Brain Mapping Unit Networks Meeting and the Cambridge Connectome Consortium > Hubs of brain functional networks are radically reorganized in comatose patients

Hubs of brain functional networks are radically reorganized in comatose patients

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Human brain networks have topological properties in common with many other complex systems, prompting the question: what aspects of brain network organization are critical for distinctive functional properties of the brain, such as consciousness? To address this question we used graph theoretical methods to explore brain network topology in resting state functional MRI data acquired from 17 patients with severely impaired consciousness and 20 healthy volunteers. We found that many global network properties were conserved in comatose patients. Specifically, there was no significant abnormality of global efficiency, clustering, small-worldness, modularity, or degree distribution in the patient group. However, in every patient we found evidence for a radical reorganization of high degree or highly efficient ``hub’’ nodes. Cortical regions that were hubs of healthy brain networks had typically become non-hubs of comatose brain networks and vice versa. These results indicate that global topological properties of complex brain networks may be homeostatically conserved under extremely different clinical conditions and that consciousness likely depends on the anatomical location of hub nodes in human brain networks.

This talk is part of the Brain Mapping Unit Networks Meeting and the Cambridge Connectome Consortium series.

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