The envirome and the connectome: exploring the structural noise in the human brain associated with socioeconomic deprivation.
Complex cognitive functions are widely recognized to be the result of a number of brain regions working together as large-scale networks. Recently, complex network analysis has been used to characterize various structural properties of the large-scale network organization of the brain. For example, the human brain has been found to have a modular architecture i.e., regions within the network form communities (modules) with more connections between regions within the community compared to regions outside it. The aim of this study was to examine the modular and overlapping modular architecture of the brain networks using complex network analysis. We also examined the association between neighborhood level deprivation and brain network structure-modularity and gray nodes. We compared network structure derived from anatomical MRI scans of 42 middle-aged neurologically healthy men from the least (LD) and the most deprived (MD) neighborhoods of Glasgow with their corresponding random networks. Cortical morphological covariance networks were constructed from the cortical thickness derived from the MRI scans of the brain. For a given modularity threshold, networks derived from the MD group showed similar number of modules compared to their corresponding random networks, while networks derived from the LD group had more modules compared to their corresponding random networks. The MD group also had fewer gray nodes-a measure of overlapping modular structure. These results suggest that apparent structural difference in brain networks may be driven by differences in cortical thicknesses between groups. This demonstrates a structural organization that is consistent with a system that is less robust and less efficient in information processing. These findings provide some evidence of the relationship between socioeconomic deprivation and brain network topology.