Correspondence between structure and function in the human brain at rest

Front Neuroinform. 2012 Mar 27;6:10. doi: 10.3389/fninf.2012.00010. eCollection 2012.


To further understanding of basic and complex cognitive functions, previous connectome research has identified functional and structural connections of the human brain. Functional connectivity is often measured by using resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rs-fMRI) and is generally interpreted as an indirect measure of neuronal activity. Gray matter (GM) primarily consists of neuronal and glia cell bodies; therefore, it is surprising that the majority of connectome research has excluded GM measures. Therefore, we propose that by exploring where GM corresponds to function would aid in the understanding of both structural and functional connectivity and in turn the human connectome. A cohort of 603 healthy participants underwent structural and functional scanning on the same 3 T scanner at the Mind Research Network. To investigate the spatial correspondence between structure and function, spatial independent component analysis (ICA) was applied separately to both GM density (GMD) maps and to rs-fMRI data. ICA of GM delineates structural components based on the covariation of GMD regions among subjects. For the rs-fMRI data, ICA identified spatial patterns with common temporal features. These decomposed structural and functional components were then compared by spatial correlation. Basal ganglia components exhibited the highest structural to resting-state functional spatial correlation (r = 0.59). Cortical components generally show correspondence between a single structural component and several resting-state functional components. We also studied relationships between the weights of different structural components and identified the precuneus as a hub in GMD structural network correlations. In addition, we analyzed relationships between component weights, age, and gender; concluding that age has a significant effect on structural components.

Keywords: functional; gray matter density; independent component analysis; networks; resting-state; source-based morphometry; structural.