An integrated TMS-EEG and MRI approach to explore the interregional connectivity of the default mode network

Brain Struct Funct. 2022 Apr;227(3):1133-1144. doi: 10.1007/s00429-022-02453-6. Epub 2022 Feb 4.


Explorations of the relation between brain anatomy and functional connections in the brain are crucial for shedding more light on network connectivity that sustains brain communication. In this study, by means of an integrative approach, we examined both the structural and functional connections of the default mode network (DMN) in a group of sixteen healthy subjects. For each subject, the DMN was extracted from the structural and functional resonance imaging data; the areas that were part of the DMN were defined as the regions of interest. Then, the target network was structurally explored by diffusion-weighted imaging, tested by neurophysiological means, and retested by means of concurrent transcranial magnetic stimulation and electroencephalography (TMS-EEG). A series of correlational analyses were performed to explore the relationship between the amplitude of early-latency TMS-evoked potentials and the indexes of structural connectivity (weighted number of fibres and fractional anisotropy). Stimulation of the left or right parietal nodes of the DMN-induced activation in the contralateral parietal and frontocentral electrodes within 60 ms; this activation correlated with fractional anisotropy measures of the corpus callosum. These results showed that distant secondary activations after target stimulation can be predicted based on the target's anatomical connections. Interestingly, structural features of the corpus callosum predicted the activation of the directly connected nodes, i.e., parietal-parietal nodes, and of the broader DMN network, i.e., parietal-frontal nodes, as identified with functional magnetic resonance imaging. Our results suggested that the proposed integrated approach would allow us to describe the contributory causal relationship between structural connectivity and functional connectivity of the DMN.

Keywords: Connectivity; Default mode network; Integrative neuroscience; MRI; TMS-EEG; Tractography.

MeSH terms

  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain / physiology
  • Brain Mapping
  • Default Mode Network*
  • Electroencephalography
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Nerve Net* / physiology
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation