During development, the healthy human brain constructs a host of large-scale, distributed, function-critical neural networks. Neurodegenerative diseases have been thought to target these systems, but this hypothesis has not been systematically tested in living humans. We used network-sensitive neuroimaging methods to show that five different neurodegenerative syndromes cause circumscribed atrophy within five distinct, healthy, human intrinsic functional connectivity networks. We further discovered a direct link between intrinsic connectivity and gray matter structure. Across healthy individuals, nodes within each functional network exhibited tightly correlated gray matter volumes. The findings suggest that human neural networks can be defined by synchronous baseline activity, a unified corticotrophic fate, and selective vulnerability to neurodegenerative illness. Future studies may clarify how these complex systems are assembled during development and undermined by disease.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.neuron.2009.03.024
View details for Web of Science ID 000265346700008
View details for PubMedID 19376066