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The human brain can be modeled as a network, whose structure can be revealed by either anatomical or functional connectivity analyses. Little is known, so far, about the topological features of the large-scale interregional functional covariance network (FCN) in the brain. Further, the relationship between the FCN and the structural covariance network (SCN) has not been characterized yet, in the intact as well as in the diseased brain. Here, we studied 59 patients with idiopathic generalized epilepsy characterized by tonic-clonic seizures and 59 healthy controls. We estimated the FCN and the SCN by measuring amplitude of low-frequency fluctuations (ALFF) and gray matter volume (GMV), respectively, and then we conducted graph theoretical analyses. Our ALFF-based FCN and GMV-based results revealed that the normal human brain is characterized by specific topological properties such as small worldness and highly-connected hub regions. The patients had an altered overall topology compared to the controls, suggesting that epilepsy is primarily a disorder of the cerebral network organization. Further, the patients had altered nodal characteristics in the subcortical and medial temporal regions and default-mode regions, for both the FCN and SCN. Importantly, the correspondence between the FCN and SCN was significantly larger in patients than in the controls. These results support the hypothesis that the SCN reflects shared long-term trophic mechanisms within functionally synchronous systems. They can also provide crucial information for understanding the interactions between the whole-brain network organization and pathology in generalized tonic-clonic seizures.

Original publication




Journal article


Brain Connect

Publication Date





240 - 254


Adolescent, Adult, Brain, Brain Mapping, Epilepsy, Generalized, Female, Humans, Image Processing, Computer-Assisted, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Male, Nerve Net, Neural Pathways, Young Adult