Brain network connectivity assessed using graph theory in frontotemporal dementia

Federica Agosta, Sara Sala, Paola Valsasina, Alessandro Meani, Elisa Canu, Giuseppe Magnani, Stefano F. Cappa, Elisa Scola, Piero Quatto, Mark A. Horsfield, Andrea Falini, Giancarlo Comi, Massimo Filippi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To investigate whether brain functional network connectivity is disrupted in patients with the behavioral variant of frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD). Methods: Graph theoretical analysis was applied to resting state functionalMRI data from18 patients with probable bvFTDand 50 healthy individuals. Functional connectivity between 90 cortical and subcortical brain regions was estimated using bivariate correlation analysis and thresholded to construct a set of undirected graphs. Correlations between network properties and cognitive variables were tested. Results: Global topologic organization of the functional brain network in bvFTD was significantly disrupted as indicated by reduced mean network degree, clustering coefficient, and global efficiency and increased characteristic path length and assortativity relative to normal subjects. Compared to controls, bvFTD data showed retention of major "hub" regions in the medial parietal, temporal, and occipital lobes, but cortical hubs were not noted in the frontal lobes. Medial and dorsal frontal regions, left caudate nucleus, left insular cortices, and some regions of the temporal, parietal, and occipital lobes showed decreased nodal centrality. BvFTD patients showed the greatest decrease in inter-regional connectivity between the frontal and occipital regions, and the insular cortices and occipital, temporal, subcortical, and frontal regions. In bvFTD, altered global network properties correlated with executive dysfunction. Conclusions: Global and local functional networks are altered in bvFTD, suggesting a loss of efficiency in information exchange between both distant and close brain areas. Altered brain regions are located in structures that are closely associated with neuropathologic changes in bvFTD. Aberrant topology of the functional brain networks in bvFTD appears to underlie cognitive deficits in these patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)134-143
Number of pages10
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jul 9 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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