Resting-State Functional Connectivity in the Human Connectome Project: Current Status and Relevance to Understanding Psychopathology

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Abstract

A key tenet of modern psychiatry is that psychiatric disorders arise from abnormalities in brain circuits that support human behavior. Our ability to examine hypotheses around circuit-level abnormalities in psychiatric disorders has been made possible by advances in human neuroimaging technologies. These advances have provided the basis for recent efforts to develop a more complex understanding of the function of brain circuits in health and of their relationship to behavior—providing, in turn, a foundation for our understanding of how disruptions in such circuits contribute to the development of psychiatric disorders. This review focuses on the use of resting-state functional connectivity MRI to assess brain circuits, on the advances generated by the Human Connectome Project, and on how these advances potentially contribute to understanding neural circuit dysfunction in psychopathology. The review gives particular attention to the methods developed by the Human Connectome Project that may be especially relevant to studies of psychopathology; it outlines some of the key findings about what constitutes a brain region; and it highlights new information about the nature and stability of brain circuits. Some of the Human Connectome Project’s new findings particularly relevant to psychopathology—about neural circuits and their relationships to behavior—are also presented. The review ends by discussing the extension of Human Connectome Project methods across the lifespan and into manifest illness. Potential treatment implications are also considered.

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