Features of spatial and functional segregation and integration of the primate connectome revealed by trade-off between wiring cost and efficiency

Yuhan Chen, Shengjun Wang, Claus C. Hilgetag, Changsong ZHOU*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


The primate connectome, possessing a characteristic global topology and specific regional connectivity profiles, is well organized to support both segregated and integrated brain function. However, the organization mechanisms shaping the characteristic connectivity and its relationship to functional requirements remain unclear. The primate brain connectome is shaped by metabolic economy as well as functional values. Here, we explored the influence of two competing factors and additional advanced functional requirements on the primate connectome employing an optimal trade-off model between neural wiring cost and the representative functional requirement of processing efficiency. Moreover, we compared this model with a generative model combining spatial distance and topological similarity, with the objective of statistically reproducing multiple topological features of the network. The primate connectome indeed displays a cost-efficiency trade-off and that up to 67% of the connections were recovered by optimal combination of the two basic factors of wiring economy and processing efficiency, clearly higher than the proportion of connections (56%) explained by the generative model. While not explicitly aimed for, the trade-off model captured several key topological features of the real connectome as the generative model, yet better explained the connectivity of most regions. The majority of the remaining 33% of connections unexplained by the best trade-off model were long-distance links, which are concentrated on few cortical areas, termed long-distance connectors (LDCs). The LDCs are mainly non-hubs, but form a densely connected group overlapping on spatially segregated functional modalities. LDCs are crucial for both functional segregation and integration across different scales. These organization features revealed by the optimization analysis provide evidence that the demands of advanced functional segregation and integration among spatially distributed regions may play a significant role in shaping the cortical connectome, in addition to the basic cost-efficiency trade-off. These findings also shed light on inherent vulnerabilities of brain networks in diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1005776
JournalPLoS Computational Biology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 29 Sept 2017

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Modelling and Simulation
  • Ecology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics


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