Structure-Function Discrepancy: Inhomogeneity and Delays in Synchronized Neural Networks

R. Ton, G. Deco, A. Daffertshofer

    Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    The discrepancy between structural and functional connectivity in neural systems forms the challenge in understanding general brain functioning. To pinpoint a mapping between structure and function, we investigated the effects of (in)homogeneity in coupling structure and delays on synchronization behavior in networks of oscillatory neural masses by deriving the phase dynamics of these generic networks. For homogeneous delays, the structural coupling matrix is largely preserved in the coupling between phases, resulting in clustered stationary phase distributions. Accordingly, we found only a small number of synchronized groups in the network. Distributed delays, by contrast, introduce inhomogeneity in the phase coupling so that clustered stationary phase distributions no longer exist. The effect of distributed delays mimicked that of structural inhomogeneity. Hence, we argue that phase (de-)synchronization patterns caused by inhomogeneous coupling cannot be distinguished from those caused by distributed delays, at least not by the naked eye. The here-derived analytical expression for the effective coupling between phases as a function of structural coupling constitutes a direct relationship between structural and functional connectivity. Structural connectivity constrains synchronizability that may be modified by the delay distribution. This explains why structural and functional connectivity bear much resemblance albeit not a one-to-one correspondence. We illustrate this in the context of resting-state activity, using the anatomical connectivity structure reported by Hagmann and others. © 2014 Ton et al.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere1003736
    Number of pages15
    JournalPLoS Computational Biology
    Issue number7
    Early online date31 Jul 2014
    Publication statusPublished - 2014


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