Manifestation of the functionalities from the structural brain network is becoming increasingly important to understand a brain disease. With the aim of investigating the differential structure-function couplings according to network systems, we investigated the structural and functional brain networks of patients with spastic diplegic cerebral palsy with periventricular leukomalacia compared to healthy controls. The structural and functional networks of the whole brain and motor system, constructed using deterministic and probabilistic tractography of diffusion tensor magnetic resonance images and Pearson and partial correlation analyses of resting-state functional magnetic resonance images, showed differential embedding of functional networks in the structural networks in patients. In the whole-brain network of patients, significantly reduced global network efficiency compared to healthy controls were found in the structural networks but not in the functional networks, resulting in reduced structural-functional coupling. On the contrary, the motor network of patients had a significantly lower functional network efficiency over the intact structural network and a lower structure-function coupling than the control group. This reduced coupling but reverse directionality in the whole-brain and motor networks of patients was prominent particularly between the probabilistic structural and partial correlation-based functional networks. Intact (or less deficient) functional network over impaired structural networks of the whole brain and highly impaired functional network topology over the intact structural motor network might subserve relatively preserved cognitions and impaired motor functions in cerebral palsy. This study suggests that the structure-function relationship, evaluated specifically using sparse functional connectivity, may reveal important clues to functional reorganization in cerebral palsy. Hum Brain Mapp 38:5292-5306, 2017. © 2017 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Keywords: brain network; cerebral palsy; functional reorganization; structure-function relationship.
© 2017 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.