Brain rhythms define distinct interaction networks with differential dependence on anatomy

Neuron. 2021 Dec 1;109(23):3862-3878.e5. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2021.09.052. Epub 2021 Oct 20.


Cognitive functions are subserved by rhythmic neuronal synchronization across widely distributed brain areas. In 105 area pairs, we investigated functional connectivity (FC) through coherence, power correlation, and Granger causality (GC) in the theta, beta, high-beta, and gamma rhythms. Between rhythms, spatial FC patterns were largely independent. Thus, the rhythms defined distinct interaction networks. Importantly, networks of coherence and GC were not explained by the spatial distributions of the strengths of the rhythms. Those networks, particularly the GC networks, contained clear modules, with typically one dominant rhythm per module. To understand how this distinctiveness and modularity arises on a common anatomical backbone, we correlated, across 91 area pairs, the metrics of functional interaction with those of anatomical projection strength. Anatomy was primarily related to coherence and GC, with the largest effect sizes for GC. The correlation differed markedly between rhythms, being less pronounced for the beta and strongest for the gamma rhythm.

Keywords: Granger causality; bottom-up; coherence; feedback; feedforward; functional connectivity; hierarchical processing; large-scale cortical networks; power correlation; top-down.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Brain* / physiology
  • Cognition
  • Gamma Rhythm* / physiology
  • Neurons