Background: The organization of the connectivity between mammalian cortical areas has become a major subject of study, because of its important role in scaffolding the macroscopic aspects of animal behavior and intelligence. In this study we present a computational reconstruction approach to the problem of network organization, by considering the topological and spatial features of each area in the primate cerebral cortex as subsidy for the reconstruction of the global cortical network connectivity. Starting with all areas being disconnected, pairs of areas with similar sets of features are linked together, in an attempt to recover the original network structure.
Results: Inferring primate cortical connectivity from the properties of the nodes, remarkably good reconstructions of the global network organization could be obtained, with the topological features allowing slightly superior accuracy to the spatial ones. Analogous reconstruction attempts for the C. elegans neuronal network resulted in substantially poorer recovery, indicating that cortical area interconnections are relatively stronger related to the considered topological and spatial properties than neuronal projections in the nematode.
Conclusion: The close relationship between area-based features and global connectivity may hint on developmental rules and constraints for cortical networks. Particularly, differences between the predictions from topological and spatial properties, together with the poorer recovery resulting from spatial properties, indicate that the organization of cortical networks is not entirely determined by spatial constraints.