Large-Scale Network Analysis of Whole-Brain Resting-State Functional Connectivity in Spinal Cord Injury: A Comparative Study

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Mary Ann Liebert Inc.

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Brain Connectivity

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Network analysis based on graph theory depicts the brain as a complex network that allows inspection of overall brain connectivity pattern and calculation of quantifiable network metrics. To date, large-scale network analysis has not been applied to resting-state functional networks in complete spinal cord injury (SCI) patients. To characterize modular reorganization of whole brain into constituent nodes and compare network metrics between SCI and control subjects, fifteen subjects with chronic complete cervical SCI and 15 neurologically intact controls were scanned. The data were preprocessed followed by parcellation of the brain into 116 regions of interest (ROI). Correlation analysis was performed between every ROI pair to construct connectivity matrices and ROIs were categorized into distinct modules. Subsequently, local efficiency (LE) and global efficiency (GE) network metrics were calculated at incremental cost thresholds. The application of a modularity algorithm organized the whole-brain resting-state functional network of the SCI and the control subjects into nine and seven modules, respectively. The individual modules differed across groups in terms of the number and the composition of constituent nodes. LE demonstrated statistically significant decrease at multiple cost levels in SCI subjects. GE did not differ significantly between the two groups. The demonstration of modular architecture in both groups highlights the applicability of large-scale network analysis in studying complex brain networks. Comparing modules across groups revealed differences in number and membership of constituent nodes, indicating modular reorganization due to neural plasticity.


Brain Connectivity, Vol. 7, No. 7 (September 2017): 413-423. DOI.