Scale-free functional brain networks exhibit increased connectivity, are more integrated and less segregated in patients with Parkinson’s disease following dopaminergic treatment

Orestis Stylianou, Zalan Kaposzta, Akos Czoch, Leon Stefanovski, Andriy Yabluchanskiy, Frigyes Samuel Racz, Petra Ritter, Andras Eke, Peter Mukli

Dopaminergic treatment (DT), the standard therapy for Parkinson’s disease (PD), alters the dynamics of functional brain networks at specific time scales. Here, we explore the scale-free functional connectivity (FC) in the PD population and how it is affected by DT. We analyzed the electroencephalogram of: (i) 15 PD patients during DT (ON) and after DT washout (OFF) and (ii) 16 healthy control individuals (HC). We estimated FC using bivariate focus-based multifractal analysis, which evaluated the long-term memory (H(2)) and multifractal strength (ΔH15) of the connections. Subsequent analysis yielded network metrics (node degree, clustering coefficient and path length) based on FC estimated by H(2) or ΔH15. Cognitive performance was assessed by the Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE) and the North American Adult Reading Test (NAART). The node degrees of the ΔH15 networks were significantly higher in ON, compared to OFF and HC, while clustering coefficient and path length significantly decreased. No alterations were observed in the H(2) networks. Significant positive correlations were also found between the metrics of H(2) networks and NAART scores in the HC group. These results demonstrate that DT alters the multifractal coupled dynamics in the brain, warranting the investigation of scale-free FC in clinical and pharmacological studies.

Fractal Fract. 6(12):737 (2022)


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