Diurnal variations of resting-state fMRI data: A graph-based analysis.

Farahani, FV, Karwowski W, D'Esposito M, Betzel RF, Douglas PK, Sobczak AM, Bohaterewicz B, Marek T, Fafrowicz M.  2022.  Diurnal variations of resting-state fMRI data: A graph-based analysis., 2022 Apr 24. NeuroImage. :119246.


Circadian rhythms (lasting approximately 24 hours) control and entrain various physiological processes, ranging from neural activity and hormone secretion to sleep cycles and eating habits. Several studies have shown that time of day (TOD) is associated with human cognition and brain functions. In this study, utilizing a chronotype-based paradigm, we applied a graph theory approach on resting-state functional MRI (rs-fMRI) data to compare whole-brain functional network topology between morning and evening sessions and between morning-type (MT) and evening-type (ET) participants. Sixty-two individuals (31 MT and 31 ET) underwent two fMRI sessions, approximately 1 hour (morning) and 10 hours (evening) after their wake-up time, according to their declared habitual sleep-wake pattern on a regular working day. In the global analysis, the findings revealed the effect of TOD on functional connectivity (FC) patterns, including increased small-worldness, assortativity, and synchronization across the day. However, we identified no significant differences based on chronotype categories. The study of the modular structure of the brain at mesoscale showed that functional networks tended to be more integrated with one another in the evening session than in the morning session. Local/regional changes were affected by both factors (i.e., TOD and chronotype), mostly in areas associated with somatomotor, attention, frontoparietal, and default networks. Furthermore, connectivity and hub analyses revealed that the somatomotor, ventral attention, and visual networks covered the most highly connected areas in the morning and evening sessions: the latter two were more active in the morning sessions, and the first was identified as being more active in the evening. Finally, we performed a correlation analysis to determine whether global and nodal measures were associated with subjective assessments across participants. Collectively, these findings contribute to an increased understanding of diurnal fluctuations in resting brain activity and highlight the role of TOD in future studies on brain function and the design of fMRI experiments.