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  1. Abstract Functional connectivity (FC) describes the statistical dependence between neuronal populations or brain regions in resting-state fMRI studies and is commonly estimated as the Pearson correlation of time courses. Clustering or community detection reveals densely coupled sets of regions constituting resting-state networks or functional systems. These systems manifest most clearly when FC is sampled over longer epochs but appear to fluctuate on shorter timescales. Here, we propose a new approach to reveal temporal fluctuations in neuronal time series. Unwrapping FC signal correlations yields pairwise co-fluctuation time series, one for each node pair or edge, and allows tracking of fine-scale dynamics across the network. Co-fluctuations partition the network, at each time step, into exactly two communities. Sampled over time, the overlay of these bipartitions, a binary decomposition of the original time series, very closely approximates functional connectivity. Bipartitions exhibit characteristic spatiotemporal patterns that are reproducible across participants and imaging runs, capture individual differences, and disclose fine-scale temporal expression of functional systems. Our findings document that functional systems appear transiently and intermittently, and that FC results from the overlay of many variable instances of system expression. Potential applications of this decomposition of functional connectivity into a set of binary patterns are discussed.
  2. Abstract A diverse set of white matter connections supports seamless transitions between cognitive states. However, it remains unclear how these connections guide the temporal progression of large-scale brain activity patterns in different cognitive states. Here, we analyze the brain’s trajectories across a set of single time point activity patterns from functional magnetic resonance imaging data acquired during the resting state and an n-back working memory task. We find that specific temporal sequences of brain activity are modulated by cognitive load, associated with age, and related to task performance. Using diffusion-weighted imaging acquired from the same subjects, we apply tools from network control theory to show that linear spread of activity along white matter connections constrains the probabilities of these sequences at rest, while stimulus-driven visual inputs explain the sequences observed during the n-back task. Overall, these results elucidate the structural underpinnings of cognitively and developmentally relevant spatiotemporal brain dynamics.
  3. Adolescents are known for taking risks, from driving too fast to experimenting with drugs and alcohol. Such behaviors tend to decrease as individuals move into adulthood. Most people in their mid-twenties have greater self-control than they did as teenagers. They are also often better at planning, sustaining attention, and inhibiting impulsive behaviors. These skills, which are known as executive functions, develop over the course of adolescence. Executive functions rely upon a series of brain regions distributed across the frontal lobe and the lobe that sits just behind it, the parietal lobe. Fiber tracts connect these regions to form a fronto-parietal network. These fiber tracts are also referred to as white matter due to the whitish fatty material that surrounds and insulates them. Cui et al. now show that changes in white matter networks have implications for teen behavior. Almost 950 healthy young people aged between 8 and 23 years underwent a type of brain scan called diffusion-weighted imaging that visualizes white matter. The scans revealed that white matter networks in the frontal and parietal lobes mature over adolescence. This makes it easier for individuals to activate their fronto-parietal networks by decreasing the amount of energy required. Cui et al. showmore »that a computer model can predict the maturity of a person's brain based on the energy needed to activate their fronto-parietal networks. These changes help explain why executive functions improve during adolescence. This in turn explains why behaviors such as risk-taking tend to decrease with age. That said, adults with various psychiatric disorders, such as ADHD and psychosis, often show impaired executive functions. In the future, it may be possible to reduce these impairments by applying magnetic fields to the scalp to reduce the activity of specific brain regions. The techniques used in the current study could help reveal which brain regions to target with this approach.« less
  4. Abstract
  5. The brain is a complex, multiscale dynamical system composed of many interacting regions. Knowledge of the spatiotemporal organization of these interactions is critical for establishing a solid understanding of the brain’s functional architecture and the relationship between neural dynamics and cognition in health and disease. The possibility of studying these dynamics through careful analysis of neuroimaging data has catalyzed substantial interest in methods that estimate time-resolved fluctuations in functional connectivity (often referred to as “dynamic” or time-varying functional connectivity; TVFC). At the same time, debates have emerged regarding the application of TVFC analyses to resting fMRI data, and about the statistical validity, physiological origins, and cognitive and behavioral relevance of resting TVFC. These and other unresolved issues complicate interpretation of resting TVFC findings and limit the insights that can be gained from this promising new research area. This article brings together scientists with a variety of perspectives on resting TVFC to review the current literature in light of these issues. We introduce core concepts, define key terms, summarize controversies and open questions, and present a forward-looking perspective on how resting TVFC analyses can be rigorously and productively applied to investigate a wide range of questions in cognitive and systems neuroscience.