Structural-functional connectivity bandwidth of the human brain

Nicholas Parsons, Julien Ugon, Kerri Morgan, Sergiy Shelyag, Alex Hocking, Su Yuan Chan, Govinda Poudel, Juan F. Domìnguez D, Karen Caeyenberghs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Background: The human brain is a complex network that seamlessly manifests behaviour and cognition. This network comprises neurons that directly, or indirectly mediate communication between brain regions. Here, we show how multilayer/multiplex network analysis provides a suitable framework to uncover the throughput of structural connectivity (SC) to mediate information transfer—giving rise to functional connectivity (FC). 

Method: We implemented a novel method to reconcile SC and FC using diffusion and resting-state functional MRI connectivity data from 484 subjects (272 females, 212 males; age = 29.15 ± 3.47) from the Human Connectome Project. First, we counted the number of direct and indirect structural paths that mediate FC. FC nodes with indirect SC paths were then weighted according to their least restrictive SC path. We refer to this as SC-FC Bandwidth. We then mapped paths with the highest SC-FC Bandwidth across 7 canonical resting-state networks. 

Findings: We found that most pairs of FC nodes were connected by SC paths of length two and three (SC paths of length >5 were virtually non-existent). Direct SC-FC connections accounted for only 10% of all SC-FC connections. The majority of FC nodes without a direct SC path were mediated by a proportion of two (44%) or three SC path lengths (39%). Only a small proportion of FC nodes were mediated by SC path lengths of four (5%). We found high-bandwidth direct SC-FC connections show dense intra- and sparse inter-network connectivity, with a bilateral, anteroposterior distribution. High bandwidth SC-FC triangles have a right superomedial distribution within the somatomotor network. High-bandwidth SC-FC quads have a superoposterior distribution within the default mode network. 

Conclusion: Our method allows the measurement of indirect SC-FC using undirected, weighted graphs derived from multimodal MRI data in order to map the location and throughput of SC to mediate FC. An extension of this work may be to explore how SC-FC Bandwidth changes over time, relates to cognition/behavior, and if this measure reflects a marker of neurological injury or psychiatric disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Article number119659
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • human brain
  • functional connectivity (FC)
  • structural connectivity (SC)


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