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Reorganisation of Brain Hubs across Altered States of Consciousness.

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Patterns of functional interactions across distributed brain regions are suggested to provide a scaffold for the conscious processing of information, with marked topological alterations observed in loss of consciousness. However, establishing a firm link between macro-scale brain network organisation and conscious cognition requires direct investigations into neuropsychologically-relevant architectural modifications across systematic reductions in consciousness. Here we assessed both global and regional disturbances to brain graphs in a group of healthy participants across baseline resting state fMRI as well as two distinct levels of propofol-induced sedation. We found a persistent modular architecture, yet significant reorganisation of brain hubs that formed parts of a wider rich-club collective. Furthermore, the reduction in the strength of rich-club connectivity was significantly associated with the participants' performance in a semantic judgment task, indicating the importance of this higher-order topological feature for conscious cognition. These results highlight a remarkable interplay between global and regional properties of brain functional interactions in supporting conscious cognition that is relevant to our understanding of clinical disorders of consciousness.



Adult, Brain, Conscious Sedation, Consciousness, Female, Humans, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Male, Middle Aged, Nerve Net, Neural Pathways, Propofol, Unconsciousness

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Springer Science and Business Media LLC


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Wellcome Trust (083660/Z/07/Z)
Medical Research Council (MC_G0802534)
his research study was funded by a Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Training Fellowship awarded to R.M.A. (Contract grant number: 083660/Z/07/Z). Additionally, this work was supported by grants from the Yousef Jameel Academic Program administered via the Cambridge Trust, the Shanghai Municipal Science and Technology Major Project (No.2018SHZDZX01) and ZJLab awarded to D.V.; the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR, UK), Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre and NIHR Senior Investigator Awards to D.K.M.; The Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR) to D.K.M. and E.A.S.; the Stephen Erskine Fellowship (Queens’ College, Cambridge) to E.A.S.; the British Oxygen Professorship of the Royal College of Anaesthetists to D.K.M. This research was also supported by the NIHR Brain Injury Healthcare Technology Co-operative based at Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and University of Cambridge.