Functional connectivity of the brain

The study of the brain's functional properties and connectivity is a critical area of research within the field of neuroscience.

Spatially distant brain regions may share functional properties. Their study is the main target of many research efforts, as neuronal interactions and their inter-dependence are fundamental for cognition and the accomplishment of different tasks.

Functional connectivity (FC) of networks of interconnected neuronal cells is defined as a “statistical dependence among remote neurophysiological events”. It accounts for determining which set(s) of neurons is appointed to carry out a precise function. FC can be investigated at different scales, from small networks in vitro, to the brain, to the interaction of the brain with the peripheral nervous system.

fMRI is the most well-known technique for mapping the anatomical connectivity of neural networks, but it has limitations in terms of time resolution. EEG is a low-cost technique that can allow to study FC among different cortical brain regions and it has advantages in detecting short time events. Moreover, in vitro cultures of hundreds of neurons can be used to investigate how single neurons interact together under controlled conditions, using techniques like micro-electrode arrays (MEA). Imaging techniques can detect the structural connections among a network of cells while correlation and synchronization measurements between their spikes may help to define a FC map.

Deficits in FC have been associated with various diseases, including autism and stroke. By understanding the functional properties and interactions of brain networks, important insights are gained into the underlying mechanisms of these conditions, which may help develop more effective treatments.

Some preliminary results have been obtained by our group investigating the EEG.

  • Study on the differences in connectivity properties between pre and post epileptic seizures using EEG data from epileptic patient
  • Connectivity differences in patients affected by encephalitis before the onset of slow biphasic complexes

Parallelly, connectivity estimation techniques has been applied with success on neuron populations in vitro, assessing their maturation over time.

Erc Sector:

  • PE7_7 Signal processing


  • Electroencephalography
  • Brain
  • Functional connectivity

Research groups