Identifying super-feminine, super-masculine and sex-defining connections in the human braingraph

Cogn Neurodyn. 2021 Dec;15(6):949-959. doi: 10.1007/s11571-021-09687-w. Epub 2021 Jul 15.


For more than a decade now, we can discover and study thousands of cerebral connections with the application of diffusion magnetic resonance imaging (dMRI) techniques and the accompanying algorithmic workflow. While numerous connectomical results were published enlightening the relation between the braingraph and certain biological, medical, and psychological properties, it is still a great challenge to identify a small number of brain connections closely related to those conditions. In the present contribution, by applying the 1200 Subjects Release of the Human Connectome Project (HCP) and Support Vector Machines, we identify just 102 connections out of the total number of 1950 connections in the 83-vertex graphs of 1064 subjects, which-by a simple linear test-precisely, without any error determine the sex of the subject. Next, we re-scaled the weights of the edges-corresponding to the discovered fibers-to be between 0 and 1, and, very surprisingly, we were able to identify two graph edges out of these 102, such that, if their weights are both 1, then the connectome always belongs to a female subject, independently of the other edges. Similarly, we have identified 3 edges from these 102, whose weights, if two of them are 1 and one is 0, imply that the graph belongs to a male subject-again, independently of the other edges. We call the former 2 edges superfeminine and the first two of the 3 edges supermasculine edges of the human connectome. Even more interestingly, the edge, connecting the right Pars Triangularis and the right Superior Parietal areas, is one of the 2 superfeminine edges, and it is also the third edge, accompanying the two supermasculine connections if its weight is 0; therefore, it is also a "switching" edge. Identifying such edge-sets of distinction is the unprecedented result of this work.

Supplementary information: The online version contains supplementary material available at 10.1007/s11571-021-09687-w.

Keywords: Braingraph; Connectome; Linear separation; SVM; Sex differences; Superfeminine edges; Supermasculine edges.