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Dynamic Network Connectivity: from monkeys to humans

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Front Hum Neurosci. 2024 Feb 7;18:1353043. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2024.1353043. eCollection 2024.


Human brain imaging research using functional MRI (fMRI) has uncovered flexible variations in the functional connectivity between brain regions. While some of this variability likely arises from the pattern of information flow through circuits, it may also be influenced by rapid changes in effective synaptic strength at the molecular level, a phenomenon called Dynamic Network Connectivity (DNC) discovered in non-human primate circuits. These neuromodulatory molecular mechanisms are found in layer III of the macaque dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC), the site of the microcircuits shown by Goldman-Rakic to be critical for working memory. This research has shown that the neuromodulators acetylcholine, norepinephrine, and dopamine can rapidly change the strength of synaptic connections in layer III dlPFC by (1) modifying the depolarization state of the post-synaptic density needed for NMDA receptor neurotransmission and (2) altering the open state of nearby potassium channels to rapidly weaken or strengthen synaptic efficacy and the strength of persistent neuronal firing. Many of these actions involve increased cAMP-calcium signaling in dendritic spines, where varying levels can coordinate the arousal state with the cognitive state. The current review examines the hypothesis that some of the dynamic changes in correlative strength between cortical regions observed in human fMRI studies may arise from these molecular underpinnings, as has been seen when pharmacological agents or genetic alterations alter the functional connectivity of the dlPFC consistent with the macaque physiology. These DNC mechanisms provide essential flexibility but may also confer vulnerability to malfunction when dysregulated in cognitive disorders.

PMID:38384333 | PMC:PMC10879414 | DOI:10.3389/fnhum.2024.1353043

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