Imaging structural and functional connectivity: towards a unified definition of human brain organization?

Curr Opin Neurol. 2008 Aug;21(4):393-403. doi: 10.1097/WCO.0b013e3283065cfb.


Purpose of review: Diffusion tractography and functional/effective connectivity MRI provide a better understanding of the structural and functional human brain connectivity. This review will underline the major recent methodological developments and their exceptional respective contributions to physiological and pathophysiological studies in vivo. We will also emphasize the benefits provided by computational models of complex networks such as graph theory.

Recent findings: Imaging structural and functional brain connectivity has revealed the complex brain organization into large-scale networks. Such an organization not only permits the complex information segregation and integration during high cognitive processes but also determines the clinical consequences of alterations encountered in development, ageing, or neurological diseases. Recently, it has also been demonstrated that human brain networks shared topological properties with the so-called 'small-world' mathematical model, allowing a maximal efficiency with a minimal energy and wiring cost.

Summary: Separately, magnetic resonance tractography and functional MRI connectivity have both brought new insights into brain organization and the impact of injuries. The small-world topology of structural and functional human brain networks offers a common framework to merge structural and functional imaging as well as dynamical data from electrophysiology that might allow a comprehensive definition of the brain organization and plasticity.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Mental Processes / physiology*
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Neural Pathways / physiology*
  • Neurosciences / instrumentation
  • Neurosciences / methods