Abnormal meta-state activation of dynamic brain networks across the Alzheimer spectrum

Pablo Núñez*, Jesús Poza, Carlos Gómez, Víctor Rodríguez-González, Arjan Hillebrand, Prejaas Tewarie, Miguel Ángel Tola-Arribas, Mónica Cano, Roberto Hornero

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)
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The characterization of the distinct dynamic functional connectivity (dFC) patterns that activate in the brain during rest can help to understand the underlying time-varying network organization. The presence and behavior of these patterns (known as meta-states) have been widely studied by means of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). However, modalities with high-temporal resolution, such as electroencephalography (EEG), enable the characterization of fast temporally evolving meta-state sequences. Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and dementia due to Alzheimer's disease (AD) have been shown to disrupt spatially localized activation and dFC between different brain regions, but not much is known about how they affect meta-state network topologies and their network dynamics. The main hypothesis of the study was that MCI and dementia due to AD alter normal meta-state sequences by inducing a loss of structure in their patterns and a reduction of their dynamics. Moreover, we expected that patients with MCI would display more flexible behavior compared to patients with dementia due to AD. Thus, the aim of the current study was twofold: (i) to find repeating, distinctly organized network patterns (meta-states) in neural activity; and (ii) to extract information about meta-state fluctuations and how they are influenced by MCI and dementia due to AD. To accomplish these goals, we present a novel methodology to characterize dynamic meta-states and their temporal fluctuations by capturing aspects based on both their discrete activation and the continuous evolution of their individual strength. These properties were extracted from 60-s resting-state EEG recordings from 67 patients with MCI due to AD, 50 patients with dementia due to AD, and 43 cognitively healthy controls. First, the instantaneous amplitude correlation (IAC) was used to estimate instantaneous functional connectivity with a high temporal resolution. We then extracted meta-states by means of graph community detection based on recurrence plots (RPs), both at the individual- and group-level. Subsequently, a diverse set of properties of the continuous and discrete fluctuation patterns of the meta-states was extracted and analyzed. The main novelty of the methodology lies in the usage of Louvain GJA community detection to extract meta-states from IAC-derived RPs and the extended analysis of their discrete and continuous activation. Our findings showed that distinct dynamic functional connectivity meta-states can be found on the EEG time-scale, and that these were not affected by the oscillatory slowing induced by MCI or dementia due to AD. However, both conditions displayed a loss of meta-state modularity, coupled with shorter dwell times and higher complexity of the meta-state sequences. Furthermore, we found evidence that meta-state sequencing is not entirely random; it shows an underlying structure that is partially lost in MCI and dementia due to AD. These results show evidence that AD progression is associated with alterations in meta-state switching, and a degradation of dynamic brain flexibility.

Original languageEnglish
Article number117898
Publication statusPublished - 15 May 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Community detection
  • Dementia due to Alzheimer's disease
  • Dynamic functional connectivity
  • Electroencephalography
  • Instantaneous amplitude correlation
  • Mild cognitive impairment


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