Loss of consciousness reduces the stability of brain hubs and the heterogeneity of brain dynamics

Ane López-González*, Rajanikant Panda, Adrián Ponce-Alvarez, Gorka Zamora-López, Anira Escrichs, Charlotte Martial, Aurore Thibaut, Olivia Gosseries, Morten L. Kringelbach, Jitka Annen, Steven Laureys, Gustavo Deco

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Low-level states of consciousness are characterized by disruptions of brain activity that sustain arousal and awareness. Yet, how structural, dynamical, local and network brain properties interplay in the different levels of consciousness is unknown. Here, we study fMRI brain dynamics from patients that suffered brain injuries leading to a disorder of consciousness and from healthy subjects undergoing propofol-induced sedation. We show that pathological and pharmacological low-level states of consciousness display less recurrent, less connected and more segregated synchronization patterns than conscious state. We use whole-brain models built upon healthy and injured structural connectivity to interpret these dynamical effects. We found that low-level states of consciousness were associated with reduced network interactions, together with more homogeneous and more structurally constrained local dynamics. Notably, these changes lead the structural hub regions to lose their stability during low-level states of consciousness, thus attenuating the differences between hubs and non-hubs brain dynamics.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1037
JournalCommunications Biology
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


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