An information theory framework for dynamic functional domain connectivity

J Neurosci Methods. 2017 Jun 1;284:103-111. doi: 10.1016/j.jneumeth.2017.04.009. Epub 2017 Apr 23.


Background: Dynamic functional network connectivity (dFNC) analyzes time evolution of coherent activity in the brain. In this technique dynamic changes are considered for the whole brain. This paper proposes an information theory framework to measure information flowing among subsets of functional networks call functional domains.

New method: Our method aims at estimating bits of information contained and shared among domains. The succession of dynamic functional states is estimated at the domain level. Information quantity is based on the probabilities of observing each dynamic state. Mutual information measurement is then obtained from probabilities across domains. Thus, we named this value the cross domain mutual information (CDMI).

Results: Strong CDMIs were observed in relation to the subcortical domain. Domains related to sensorial input, motor control and cerebellum form another CDMI cluster. Information flow among other domains was seldom found.

Comparison with existing methods: Other methods of dynamic connectivity focus on whole brain dFNC matrices. In the current framework, information theory is applied to states estimated from pairs of multi-network functional domains. In this context, we apply information theory to measure information flow across functional domains.

Conclusion: Identified CDMI clusters point to known information pathways in the basal ganglia and also among areas of sensorial input, patterns found in static functional connectivity. In contrast, CDMI across brain areas of higher level cognitive processing follow a different pattern that indicates scarce information sharing. These findings show that employing information theory to formally measured information flow through brain domains reveals additional features of functional connectivity.

Keywords: Dynamic functional network connectivity; Entropy; Functional MRI; Mutual information.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Basal Ganglia / anatomy & histology
  • Basal Ganglia / physiology*
  • Computer Simulation
  • Connectome / methods*
  • Humans
  • Information Storage and Retrieval / methods*
  • Models, Neurological*
  • Models, Statistical*
  • Nerve Net / anatomy & histology
  • Nerve Net / physiology*