It is becoming clearer that the impact of brain diseases is more convincingly represented in terms of co-alterations rather than in terms of localization of alterations. In this context, areas characterized by a long mean distance of co-alteration may be considered as hubs with a crucial role in the pathology. We calculated meta-analytic transdiagnostic networks of co-alteration for the gray matter decreases and increases, and we evaluated the mean Euclidean, fiber-length, and topological distance of its nodes. We also examined the proportion of co-alterations between canonical networks, and the transdiagnostic variance of the Euclidean distance. Furthermore, disease-specific analyses were conducted on schizophrenia and Alzheimer's disease. The anterodorsal prefrontal cortices appeared to be a transdiagnostic hub of long-distance co-alterations. Also, the disease-specific analyses showed that long-distance co-alterations are more able than classic meta-analyses to identify areas involved in pathology and symptomatology. Moreover, the distance maps were correlated with the normative connectivity. Our findings substantiate the network degeneration hypothesis in brain pathology. At the same time, they suggest that the concept of co-alteration might be a useful tool for clinical neuroscience.
Keywords: Alzheimer's disease; VBM; network degeneration; pathology spread; physical distance; schizophrenia; topological distance; transdiagnostic.
© 2020 The Authors. Human Brain Mapping published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc.