Functional brain networks formed using cross-sample entropy are scale free

Brain Connect. 2014 Aug;4(6):454-64. doi: 10.1089/brain.2013.0217. Epub 2014 Jul 22.


Over the previous decade, there has been an explosion of interest in network science, in general, and its application to the human brain, in particular. Most brain network investigations to date have used linear correlations (LinCorr) between brain areas to construct and then interpret brain networks. In this study, we applied an entropy-based method to establish functional connectivity between brain areas. This method is sensitive to both nonlinear and linear associations. The LinCorr-based and entropy-based techniques were applied to resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging data from 10 subjects, and the resulting networks were compared. The networks derived from the entropy-based method exhibited power-law degree distributions. Moreover, the entropy-based networks had a higher clustering coefficient and a shorter path length compared with that of the LinCorr-based networks. While the LinCorr-based networks were assortative, with nodes with similar degrees preferentially connected, the entropy-based networks were disassortative, with high-degree hubs directly connected to low-degree nodes. It is likely that the differences in clustering and assortativity are due to "mega-hubs" in the entropy-based networks. These mega-hubs connect to a large majority of the nodes in the network. This is the first work clearly demonstrating differences between functional brain networks using linear and nonlinear techniques. The key finding is that the nonlinear technique produced networks with scale-free degree distributions. There remains debate among the neuroscience community as to whether human brains are scale free. These data support the argument that at least some aspects of the human brain are perhaps scale free.

Keywords: brain networks; correlation; graph theory; resting state.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping / methods*
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Humans
  • Information Theory
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Nonlinear Dynamics*