The Role of Functional Networks in Neuropsychiatric Disorders

  • Leonides Canuet
  • Yasunori Aoki
  • Ryouhei Ishii
  • Fernando MaestúEmail author


The impact of neurological and psychiatric diseases on the functional organization of the brain has been a topic of growing interest in the last decade. There is increasing evidence indicating that the characterization of brain activity purely in terms of anatomically segregated responses is not sufficient to explain the complexity of neuropsychiatric disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, schizophrenia, or autism. Thus, recent studies are looking at brain functional connectivity using neuroimaging and neurophysiological techniques. It is known that a lesion in a brain region considered a hub or key node may cause the loss of a particular brain function supported by a particular brain network, in which that hub plays a crucial role for an efficient communication. This brain integration approach may improve our understanding of symptoms and pathophysiology of neurological and psychiatric diseases, which are currently considered as disconnection syndromes. In addition, this may help clarify answered questions such as how local lesions (e.g., tumors) or focal epilepsy can affect the organization of functional networks or how some diseases are using neural networks to spread their functional and histopathological abnormalities?

In the case of Alzheimer’s disease, the accumulation of amyloid protein and tau protein-related neuronal injury are associated with the cortical dysfunction as well as neuropathology spreads by neuronal to neuronal connections using well-established neuronal circuits. With regard to epilepsy, this disease is proposed to be due to a dysfunction within an epileptic network rather than to pathological activity of single cortical sources. Thus, epileptic networks underlying focal epilepsies and specific epileptic syndromes may be of great importance for localizing the seizure onset or the epileptogenic zone, for predicting postsurgical cognitive impairment, and even for epilepsy diagnosis in some cases where repetitive EEG recordings have failed to identify epileptiform activity. In neuropsychiatric disorders that do not have structural lesions, disruption of certain networks, including the central executive network, salience network, and default mode network, is proposed to be related to psychotic symptoms or cognitive deficits. In this chapter, we will focus on oscillation-based functional connectivity in two main neurological disorders: Alzheimer’s Disease and epilepsy, and in some of the most important psychiatric conditions: schizophrenia, autism, and Major Depressive Disorder. We aim to provide recent evidence of how this new network approach can shed some light on the pathophysiological mechanisms underlying neuropsychiatric disorders.


Autism Spectrum Disorder Major Depressive Disorder Mild Cognitive Impairment Functional Connectivity Default Mode Network 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Leonides Canuet
    • 1
  • Yasunori Aoki
    • 2
  • Ryouhei Ishii
    • 2
  • Fernando Maestú
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Laboratory of Cognitive and Computational Neuroscience (UCM-UPM)Centre for Biomedical TechnologyMadridSpain
  2. 2.Department of PsychiatryOsaka University Graduate School of MedicineOsakaJapan
  3. 3.Department of Basic Psychology IIComplutense University of MadridMadridSpain

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