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The Dynamics of Functional Brain Networks Associated With Depressive Symptoms in a Nonclinical Sample

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  • Sonsoles Alonso Martínez, University of Groningen
  • ,
  • Gustavo Deco, Pompeu Fabra University, ICREA
  • ,
  • Gert J. Ter Horst, University of Groningen
  • ,
  • Joana Cabral

Brain function depends on the flexible and dynamic coordination of functional subsystems within distributed neural networks operating on multiple scales. Recent progress has been made in the characterization of functional connectivity (FC) at the whole-brain scale from a dynamic, rather than static, perspective, but its validity for cognitive sciences remains under debate. Here, we analyzed brain activity recorded with functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging from 71 healthy participants evaluated for depressive symptoms after a relationship breakup based on the conventional Major Depression Inventory (MDI). We compared both static and dynamic FC patterns between participants reporting high and low depressive symptoms. Between-group differences in static FC were estimated using a standard pipeline for network-based statistic (NBS). Additionally, FC was analyzed from a dynamic perspective by characterizing the occupancy, lifetime, and transition profiles of recurrent FC patterns. Recurrent FC patterns were defined by clustering the BOLD phase-locking patterns obtained using leading eigenvector dynamics analysis (LEiDA). NBS analysis revealed a brain subsystem exhibiting significantly lower within-subsystem correlation values in more depressed participants (high MDI). This subsystem predominantly comprised connections between regions of the default mode network (i.e., precuneus) and regions outside this network. On the other hand, LEiDA results showed that high MDI participants engaged more in a state connecting regions of the default mode, memory retrieval, and frontoparietal network (p-FDR = 0.012); and less in a state connecting mostly the visual and dorsal attention systems (p-FDR = 0.004). Although both our analyses on static and dynamic FC implicate the role of the precuneus in depressive symptoms, only including the temporal evolution of BOLD FC helped to disentangle over time the distinct configurations in which this region plays a role. This finding further indicates that a holistic understanding of brain function can only be gleaned if the temporal dynamics of FC is included.

Original languageEnglish
Article number570583
JournalFrontiers in Neural Circuits
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2020

    Research areas

  • depressive symptoms, dynamic FC, functional brain networks, nonclinical sample, resting-state fMRI, static FC, whole-brain

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