Differentially categorized structural brain hubs are involved in different microstructural, functional, and cognitive characteristics and contribute to individual identification

Hum Brain Mapp. 2018 Apr;39(4):1647-1663. doi: 10.1002/hbm.23941. Epub 2018 Jan 4.


Very little is known regarding whether structural hubs of human brain networks that enable efficient information communication may be classified into different categories. Using three multimodal neuroimaging data sets, we construct individual structural brain networks and further identify hub regions based on eight widely used graph-nodal metrics, followed by comprehensive characteristics and reproducibility analyses. We show the three categories of structural hubs in the brain network, namely, aggregated, distributed, and connector hubs. Spatially, these distinct categories of hubs are primarily located in the default-mode system and additionally in the visual and limbic systems for aggregated hubs, in the frontoparietal system for distributed hubs, and in the sensorimotor and ventral attention systems for connector hubs. These categorized hubs exhibit various distinct characteristics to support their differentiated roles, involving microstructural organization, wiring costs, topological vulnerability, functional modular integration, and cognitive flexibility; moreover, these characteristics are better in the hubs than nonhubs. Finally, all three categories of hubs display high across-session spatial similarities and act as structural fingerprints with high predictive rates (100%, 100%, and 84.2%) for individual identification. Collectively, we highlight three categories of brain hubs with differential microstructural, functional and, cognitive associations, which shed light on topological mechanisms of the human connectome.

Keywords: connectome; connector; default mode; fingerprint; graph theory.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biometric Identification* / methods
  • Brain / anatomy & histology
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging*
  • Brain / physiology
  • Connectome*
  • Diffusion Tensor Imaging
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Multimodal Imaging
  • Neural Pathways / anatomy & histology
  • Neural Pathways / diagnostic imaging
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Rest
  • Young Adult