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Nat Commun. 2019 Oct 18;10(1):4747. doi: 10.1038/s41467-019-12765-7.

Decoupling of brain function from structure reveals regional behavioral specialization in humans.

Author information

1
Institute of Bioengineering, Center for Neuroprosthetics, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Campus Biotech, Chemin des Mines 9, 1202, Geneva, Switzerland. maria.preti@epfl.ch.
2
Department of Radiology and Medical Informatics, University of Geneva, Campus Biotech, Chemin des Mines 9, 1202, Geneva, Switzerland. maria.preti@epfl.ch.
3
Institute of Bioengineering, Center for Neuroprosthetics, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Campus Biotech, Chemin des Mines 9, 1202, Geneva, Switzerland.
4
Department of Radiology and Medical Informatics, University of Geneva, Campus Biotech, Chemin des Mines 9, 1202, Geneva, Switzerland.

Abstract

The brain is an assembly of neuronal populations interconnected by structural pathways. Brain activity is expressed on and constrained by this substrate. Therefore, statistical dependencies between functional signals in directly connected areas can be expected higher. However, the degree to which brain function is bound by the underlying wiring diagram remains a complex question that has been only partially answered. Here, we introduce the structural-decoupling index to quantify the coupling strength between structure and function, and we reveal a macroscale gradient from brain regions more strongly coupled, to regions more strongly decoupled, than expected by realistic surrogate data. This gradient spans behavioral domains from lower-level sensory function to high-level cognitive ones and shows for the first time that the strength of structure-function coupling is spatially varying in line with evidence derived from other modalities, such as functional connectivity, gene expression, microstructural properties and temporal hierarchy.

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