Amplitudes of resting-state functional networks - investigation into their correlates and biophysical properties.
Lee S., Bijsterbosch JD., Almagro FA., Elliott L., McCarthy P., Taschler B., Sala-Llonch R., Beckmann CF., Duff EP., Smith SM., Douaud G.
Resting-state fMRI studies have shown that multiple functional networks, which consist of distributed brain regions that share synchronised spontaneous activity, co-exist in the brain. As these resting-state networks (RSNs) have been thought to reflect the brain's intrinsic functional organisation, intersubject variability in the networks' spontaneous fluctuations may be associated with individuals' clinical, physiological, cognitive, and genetic traits. Here, we investigated resting-state fMRI data along with extensive clinical, lifestyle, and genetic data collected from 37,842 UK Biobank participants, with the object of elucidating intersubject variability in the fluctuation amplitudes of RSNs. Functional properties of the RSN amplitudes were first examined by analysing correlations with the well-established between-network functional connectivity. It was found that a network amplitude is highly correlated with the mean strength of the functional connectivity that the network has with the other networks. Intersubject clustering analysis showed the amplitudes are most strongly correlated with age, cardiovascular factors, body composition, blood cell counts, lung function, and sex, with some differences in the correlation strengths between sensory and cognitive RSNs. Genome-wide association studies (GWASs) of RSN amplitudes identified several significant genetic variants reported in previous GWASs for their implications in sleep duration. We provide insight into key factors determining RSN amplitudes and demonstrate that intersubject variability of the amplitudes primarily originates from differences in temporal synchrony between functionally linked brain regions, rather than differences in the magnitude of raw voxelwise BOLD signal changes. This finding additionally revealed intriguing differences between sensory and cognitive RSNs with respect to sex effects on temporal synchrony and provided evidence suggesting that synchronous coactivations of functionally linked brain regions, and magnitudes of BOLD signal changes, may be related to different genetic mechanisms. These results underscore that intersubject variability of the amplitudes in health and disease need to be interpreted largely as a measure of the sum of within-network temporal synchrony and amplitudes of BOLD signals, with a dominant contribution from the former.