What is the core of the human brain is a fundamental question that has been mainly addressed by studying the anatomical connections between differently specialized areas, thus neglecting the possible contributions from their functional interactions. While many methods are available to identify the core of a network when connections between nodes are all of the same type, a principled approach to define the core when multiple types of connectivity are allowed is still lacking. Here, we introduce a general framework to define and extract the core-periphery structure of multi-layer networks by explicitly taking into account the connectivity patterns at each layer. We first validate our algorithm on synthetic networks of different size and density, and with tunable overlap between the cores at different layers. We then use our method to merge information from structural and functional brain networks, obtaining in this way an integrated description of the core of the human connectome. Results confirm the role of the main known cortical and subcortical hubs, but also suggest the presence of new areas in the sensori-motor cortex that are crucial for intrinsic brain functioning. Taken together these findings provide fresh evidence on a fundamental question in modern neuroscience and offer new opportunities to explore the mesoscale properties of multimodal brain networks.
Keywords: brain connectivity; complex networks; multilayer networks; multimodal integration; rich-club.
© 2018 The Author(s).