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The spatial correspondence and genetic influence of inter-hemispheric connectivity with white matter microstructure

By Jeroen Mollink, Stephen M. Smith, Lloyd T. Elliott, Michiel Kleinnijenhuis, Marlies Hiemstra, Fidel Alfaro-Almagro, Jonathan Marchini, Anne-Marie van Cappellen van Walsum, S. Jbabdi, Karla L. Miller

Posted 18 May 2018
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/325787

Microscopic features (i.e., microstructure) of axons affect neural circuit activity through characteristics such as conduction speed. Deeper understanding of structure-function relationships and translating this into human neuroscience has been limited by the paucity of studies relating axonal microstructure in white matter pathways to functional connectivity (synchrony) between macroscopic brain regions. Using magnetic resonance imaging data in 11354 subjects, we constructed multi-variate models that predict the functional connectivity of pairs of brain regions from the microstructural signature of white matter pathways that connect them. Microstructure-derived models provide predictions of functional connectivity that were significant in up to 86% of the brain region pairs considered. These relationships are specific to the relevant white matter pathway and have high reproducibility. The microstructure-function relationships are associated to genetic variants (single-nucleotide polymorphisms), co-located with genes DAAM1 and LPAR1, that have previously been reported to play a role in neural development. Our results demonstrate that variation in white matter microstructure across individuals consistently and specifically predicts functional connectivity, and that this relationship is underpinned by genetic variability.

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