Limbic hyperconnectivity in the vegetative state

Carol Di Perri, Stefano Bastianello, Andreas J. Bartsch, Caterina Pistarini, Giorgio Maggioni, Lorenzo Magrassi, Roberto Imberti, Anna Pichiecchio, Paolo Vitali, Steven Laureys, Francesco Di Salle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To investigate functional connectivity between the default mode network (DMN) and other networks in disorders of consciousness. Methods: We analyzedMRI data from 11 patients in a vegetative state and 7 patients in a minimally conscious state along with age- And sex-matched healthy control subjects. MRI data analysis included nonlinear spatial normalization to compensate for disease-related anatomical distortions. We studied brain connectivity data from resting-state MRI temporal series, combining noninferential (independent component analysis) and inferential (seed-based general linear model) methods. Results: In DMN hypoconnectivity conditions, a patient's DMN functional connectivity shifts and paradoxically increases in limbic structures, including the orbitofrontal cortex, insula, hypothalamus, and the ventral tegmental area. Conclusions: Concurrently with DMN hypoconnectivity, we report limbic hyperconnectivity in patients in vegetative and minimally conscious states. This hyperconnectivity may reflect the persistent engagement of residual neural activity in self-reinforcing neural loops, which, in turn, could disrupt normal patterns of connectivity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1417-1424
Number of pages8
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - Oct 15 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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