Network dynamics scale with levels of awareness


Small world topologies are thought to provide a valuable insight into human brain organisation and consciousness. However, functional magnetic resonance imaging studies in consciousness have not yielded consistent results. Given the importance of dynamics for both consciousness and cognition, here we investigate how the diversity of brain dynamics pertaining to small world topology (quantified by sample entropy; dSW-E) scales with decreasing levels of awareness (i.e., sedation and disorders of consciousness). Paying particular attention to result reproducibility, we show that dSW-E is a consistent predictor of levels of awareness even when controlling for the underlying functional connectivity dynamics. We find that dSW-E of subcortical and cortical areas are predictive, with the former showing higher and more robust effect sizes across analyses. Consequently, we propose that the dynamic reorganisation of the functional information architecture, in particular of the subcortex, is a characteristic that emerges with awareness and has explanatory power beyond that of the complexity of dynamic functional connectivity.