Information content of brain states is explained by structural constraints on state energetics

Weninger L, Srivastava P, Zhou D, Kim JZ, Cornblath EJ, Bertolero MA, Habel U, Merhof D, Bassett DS (2022)

Publication Type: Journal article

Publication year: 2022


Book Volume: 106

Article Number: 014401

Journal Issue: 1

DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevE.106.014401


Signal propagation along the structural connectome of the brain induces changes in the patterns of activity. These activity patterns define global brain states and contain information in accordance with their expected probability of occurrence. Being the physical substrate upon which information propagates, the structural connectome, in conjunction with the dynamics, determines the set of possible brain states and constrains the transition between accessible states. Yet, precisely how these structural constraints on state transitions relate to their information content remains unexplored. To address this gap in knowledge, we defined the information content as a function of the activation distribution, where statistically rare values of activation correspond to high information content. With this numerical definition in hand, we studied the spatiotemporal distribution of information content in functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data from the Human Connectome Project during different tasks, and report four key findings. First, information content strongly depends on cognitive context; its absolute level and spatial distribution depend on the cognitive task. Second, while information content shows similarities to other measures of brain activity, it is distinct from both Neurosynth maps and task contrast maps generated by a general linear model applied to the fMRI data. Third, the brain's structural wiring constrains the cost to control its state, where the cost to transition into high information content states is larger than that to transition into low information content states. Finally, all state transitions - especially those to high information content states - are less costly than expected from random network null models, thereby indicating the brains marked efficiency. Taken together, our findings establish an explanatory link between the information contained in a brain state and the energetic cost of attaining that state, thereby laying important groundwork for our understanding of large-scale cognitive computations.

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How to cite


Weninger, L., Srivastava, P., Zhou, D., Kim, J.Z., Cornblath, E.J., Bertolero, M.A.,... Bassett, D.S. (2022). Information content of brain states is explained by structural constraints on state energetics. Physical Review E, 106(1).


Weninger, Leon, et al. "Information content of brain states is explained by structural constraints on state energetics." Physical Review E 106.1 (2022).

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