Altered brain functional network dynamics in obsessive-compulsive disorder

Hum Brain Mapp. 2021 May;42(7):2061-2076. doi: 10.1002/hbm.25345. Epub 2021 Feb 1.


Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a debilitating and disabling neuropsychiatric disorder, whose neurobiological basis remains unclear. Although traditional static resting-state magnetic resonance imaging (rfMRI) studies have found aberrant functional connectivity (FC) in OCD, alterations in whole-brain FC and topological properties in the context of brain dynamics remain relatively unexplored. The rfMRI data of 29 patients with OCD and 40 healthy controls were analyzed using group independent component analysis to obtain independent components (ICs) and a sliding-window approach to generate dynamic functional connectivity (dFC) matrices. dFC patterns were clustered into three reoccurring states, and state transition metrics were obtained. Then, graph-theory methods were applied to dFC matrices to calculate the variability of network topological organization. The occurrence of a state (State 1) with the highest modularity index and lowest mean FC between networks was increased significantly in OCD, and the fractional time in brain State 1 was positively correlated with anxiety level in patients. State 1 was characterized by having positive connections within default mode (DMN) and salience networks (SAN), and negative coupling between the two networks. Additionally, ICs belonging to DMN and SAN showed lower temporal variability of nodal degree centrality and efficiency in patients, which was related to longer illness duration and higher current obsession ratings. Our results provide evidence of clinically relevant aberrant dynamic brain activity in OCD. Increased functional segregation among networks and impaired functional flexibility in connections among brain regions in DMN and SAN may play important roles in the neuropathology of OCD.

Keywords: dynamic functional connectivity; graph theory; independent component analysis; obsessive-compulsive disorder; psychoradiology |resting-state functional MRI.