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Brain hubs defined in the group do not overlap with regions of high inter-individual variability

By Derek Martin Smith, Brian T. Kraus, Ally Dworetsky, Evan M Gordon, Caterina Gratton

Posted 18 Oct 2021
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.10.17.464723

Connector 'hubs' are brain regions with links to multiple networks. These regions are hypothesized to play a critical role in brain function. While hubs are often identified based on group-average functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data, there is considerable inter-subject variation in the functional connectivity profiles of the brain, especially in association regions where hubs tend to be located. Here we investigated how group hubs are related to locations of inter-individual variability, to better understand if hubs are (a) relatively conserved across people, (b) locations with malleable connectivity, leading individuals to show variable hub profiles, or (c) artifacts arising from cross-person variation. To answer this question, we compared the locations of hubs and regions of strong idiosyncratic functional connectivity ("variants") in both the Midnight Scan Club and Human Connectome Project datasets. Group hubs defined based on the participation coefficient did not overlap strongly with variants. These hubs have relatively strong similarity across participants and consistent cross-network profiles. Consistency across participants was further improved when participation coefficient hubs were allowed to shift slightly in local position. Thus, our results demonstrate that group hubs defined with the participation coefficient are generally consistent across people, suggesting they may represent conserved cross-network bridges. More caution is warranted with alternative hub measures, such as community density, which are based on spatial proximity and show higher correspondence to locations of individual variability.

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