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Original Research ARTICLE

Front. Hum. Neurosci., 28 December 2012 | http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2012.00339

Dynamic BOLD functional connectivity in humans and its electrophysiological correlates

Enzo Tagliazucchi*, Frederic von Wegner, Astrid Morzelewski, Verena Brodbeck and Helmut Laufs
  • Neurology Department and Brain Imaging Center, Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main, Germany

Neural oscillations subserve many human perceptual and cognitive operations. Accordingly, brain functional connectivity is not static in time, but fluctuates dynamically following the synchronization and desynchronization of neural populations. This dynamic functional connectivity has recently been demonstrated in spontaneous fluctuations of the Blood Oxygen Level-Dependent (BOLD) signal, measured with functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI). We analyzed temporal fluctuations in BOLD connectivity and their electrophysiological correlates, by means of long (≈50 min) joint electroencephalographic (EEG) and fMRI recordings obtained from two populations: 15 awake subjects and 13 subjects undergoing vigilance transitions. We identified positive and negative correlations between EEG spectral power (extracted from electrodes covering different scalp regions) and fMRI BOLD connectivity in a network of 90 cortical and subcortical regions (with millimeter spatial resolution). In particular, increased alpha (8–12 Hz) and beta (15–30 Hz) power were related to decreased functional connectivity, whereas gamma (30–60 Hz) power correlated positively with BOLD connectivity between specific brain regions. These patterns were altered for subjects undergoing vigilance changes, with slower oscillations being correlated with functional connectivity increases. Dynamic BOLD functional connectivity was reflected in the fluctuations of graph theoretical indices of network structure, with changes in frontal and central alpha power correlating with average path length. Our results strongly suggest that fluctuations of BOLD functional connectivity have a neurophysiological origin. Positive correlations with gamma can be interpreted as facilitating increased BOLD connectivity needed to integrate brain regions for cognitive performance. Negative correlations with alpha suggest a temporary functional weakening of local and long-range connectivity, associated with an idling state.

Keywords: dynamic connectivity, EEG-fMRI, resting state, brain networks, brain oscillations

Citation: Tagliazucchi E, von Wegner F, Morzelewski A, Brodbeck V and Laufs H (2012) Dynamic BOLD functional connectivity in humans and its electrophysiological correlates. Front. Hum. Neurosci. 6:339. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2012.00339

Received: 06 October 2012; Accepted: 09 December 2012;
Published online: 28 December 2012.

Edited by:

Johanna Zumer, Radboud University Nijmegen, Netherlands

Reviewed by:

Alexander Schäfer, Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Germany
Pablo Barttfeld, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina
Marieke L. Scholvinck, Ernst Strungmann Institute for Neuroscience in Cooperation with Max Planck Society, Germany

Copyright © 2012 Tagliazucchi, von Wegner, Morzelewski, Brodbeck and Laufs. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited and subject to any copyright notices concerning any third-party graphics etc.

*Correspondence: Enzo Tagliazucchi, Neurology Department and Brain Imaging Center, Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main, Germany. e-mail: nztglzcch@gmail.com