Small-world networks are a class of networks that exhibit efficient long-distance communication and tightly interconnected local neighborhoods. In recent years, functional and structural brain networks have been examined using network theory-based methods, and consistently shown to have small-world properties. Moreover, some voxel-based brain networks exhibited properties of scale-free networks, a class of networks with mega-hubs. However, there are considerable inconsistencies across studies in the methods used and the results observed, particularly between region-based and voxel-based brain networks. We constructed functional brain networks at multiple resolutions using the same resting-state fMRI data, and compared various network metrics, degree distribution, and localization of nodes of interest. It was found that the networks with higher resolutions exhibited the properties of small-world networks more prominently. It was also found that voxel-based networks were more robust against network fragmentation compared to region-based networks. Although the degree distributions of all networks followed an exponentially truncated power law rather than true power law, the higher the resolution, the closer the distribution was to a power law. The voxel-based analyses also enhanced visualization of the results in the 3D brain space. It was found that nodes with high connectivity tended have high efficiency, a co-localization of properties that was not as consistently observed in the region-based networks. Our results demonstrate benefits of constructing the brain network at the finest scale the experiment will permit.
Keywords: Resting-state fMRI; functional connectivity; graph theory; network theory; scale-free network; small-world network.
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