Structural Brain Connectivity Constrains within-a-Day Variability of Direct Functional Connectivity

Front Hum Neurosci. 2017 Aug 10;11:408. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2017.00408. eCollection 2017.


The idea that structural white matter connectivity constrains functional connectivity (interactions among brain regions) has widely been explored in studies of brain networks; studies have mostly focused on the "average" strength of functional connectivity. The question of how structural connectivity constrains the "variability" of functional connectivity remains unresolved. In this study, we investigated the variability of resting state functional connectivity that was acquired every 3 h within a single day from 12 participants (eight time sessions within a 24-h period, 165 scans per session). Three different types of functional connectivity (functional connectivity based on Pearson correlation, direct functional connectivity based on partial correlation, and the pseudo functional connectivity produced by their difference) were estimated from resting state functional magnetic resonance imaging data along with structural connectivity defined using fiber tractography of diffusion tensor imaging. Those types of functional connectivity were evaluated with regard to properties of structural connectivity (fiber streamline counts and lengths) and types of structural connectivity such as intra-/inter-hemispheric edges and topological edge types in the rich club organization. We observed that the structural connectivity constrained the variability of direct functional connectivity more than pseudo-functional connectivity and that the constraints depended strongly on structural connectivity types. The structural constraints were greater for intra-hemispheric and heterologous inter-hemispheric edges than homologous inter-hemispheric edges, and feeder and local edges than rich club edges in the rich club architecture. While each edge was highly variable, the multivariate patterns of edge involvement, especially the direct functional connectivity patterns among the rich club brain regions, showed low variability over time. This study suggests that structural connectivity not only constrains the strength of functional connectivity, but also the within-a-day variability of functional connectivity and connectivity patterns, particularly the direct functional connectivity among brain regions.

Keywords: functional connectivity dynamics; functional magnetic resonance imaging; partial correlation matrix; resting state functional connectivity; within-a-day variability.