The relationship between anatomic connectivity of large-scale brain networks and their functional connectivity is of immense importance and an area of active research. Previous attempts have required complex simulations which model the dynamics of each cortical region, and explore the coupling between regions as derived by anatomic connections. While much insight is gained from these non-linear simulations, they can be computationally taxing tools for predicting functional from anatomic connectivities. Little attention has been paid to linear models. Here we show that a properly designed linear model appears to be superior to previous non-linear approaches in capturing the brain's long-range second order correlation structure that governs the relationship between anatomic and functional connectivities. We derive a linear network of brain dynamics based on graph diffusion, whereby the diffusing quantity undergoes a random walk on a graph. We test our model using subjects who underwent diffusion MRI and resting state fMRI. The network diffusion model applied to the structural networks largely predicts the correlation structures derived from their fMRI data, to a greater extent than other approaches. The utility of the proposed approach is that it can routinely be used to infer functional correlation from anatomic connectivity. And since it is linear, anatomic connectivity can also be inferred from functional data. The success of our model confirms the linearity of ensemble average signals in the brain, and implies that their long-range correlation structure may percolate within the brain via purely mechanistic processes enacted on its structural connectivity pathways.
Keywords: Brain connectivity; Functional connectivity; Networks; Structural connectivity.
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