Functional Brain Network Topology Discriminates between Patients with Minimally Conscious State and Unresponsive Wakefulness Syndrome

Alberto Cacciola, Antonino Naro, Demetrio Milardi, Alessia Bramanti, Leonardo Malatacca, Maurizio Spitaleri, Antonino Leo, Alessandro Muscoloni, Carlo Vittorio Cannistraci, Placido Bramanti, Rocco Salvatore Calabrò, Giuseppe Pio Anastasi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Consciousness arises from the functional interaction of multiple brain structures and their ability to integrate different complex patterns of internal communication. Although several studies demonstrated that the fronto-parietal and functional default mode networks play a key role in conscious processes, it is still not clear which topological network measures (that quantifies different features of whole-brain functional network organization) are altered in patients with disorders of consciousness. Herein, we investigate the functional connectivity of unresponsive wakefulness syndrome (UWS) and minimally conscious state (MCS) patients from a topological network perspective, by using resting-state EEG recording. Network-based statistical analysis reveals a subnetwork of decreased functional connectivity in UWS compared to in the MCS patients, mainly involving the interhemispheric fronto-parietal connectivity patterns. Network topological analysis reveals increased values of local-community-paradigm correlation, as well as higher clustering coefficient and local efficiency in UWS patients compared to in MCS patients. At the nodal level, the UWS patients showed altered functional topology in several limbic and temporo-parieto-occipital regions. Taken together, our results highlight (i) the involvement of the interhemispheric fronto-parietal functional connectivity in the pathophysiology of consciousness disorders and (ii) an aberrant connectome organization both at the network topology level and at the nodal level in UWS patients compared to in the MCS patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-22
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Clinical Medicine
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 5 2019


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