Dynamic Functional Connectivity of Resting-State Spinal Cord fMRI Reveals Fine-Grained Intrinsic Architecture

Kinany N, Pirondini E, Micera S, Van De Ville D.

Neuron (2020) DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuron.2020.07.024  



The neuroimaging community has shown tremendous interest in exploring the brain’s spontaneous activity using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). On the contrary, the spinal cord has been largely overlooked despite its pivotal role in processing sensorimotor signals. Only a handful of studies have probed the organization of spinal resting-state fluctuations, always using static measures of connectivity. Many innovative approaches have emerged for analyzing dynamics of brain fMRI, but they have not yet been applied to the spinal cord, although they could help disentangle its functional architecture. Here, we leverage a dynamic connectivity method based on the clustering of hemodynamic-informed transients to unravel the rich dynamic organization of spinal resting-state signals. We test this approach in 19 healthy subjects, uncovering fine-grained spinal components and highlighting their neuroanatomical and physiological nature. We provide a versatile tool, the spinal innovation-driven co-activation patterns (SpiCiCAP) framework, to characterize spinal circuits during rest and task, as well as their disruption in neurological disorders.