While significant progress has been achieved in studying resting-state functional networks in a healthy human brain and in a wide range of clinical conditions, many questions related to their relationship to the brain’s cellular constituents remain. Here, we use quantitative Gradient-Recalled Echo (qGRE) MRI for mapping the human brain cellular composition and BOLD (blood–oxygen level-dependent) MRI to explore how the brain cellular constituents relate to resting-state functional networks. Results show that the BOLD signal-defined synchrony of connections between cellular circuits in network-defined individual functional units is mainly associated with the regional neuronal density, while the between-functional units’ connectivity strength is also influenced by the glia and synaptic components of brain tissue cellular constituents. These mechanisms lead to a rather broad distribution of resting-state functional network properties. Visual networks with the highest neuronal density (but lowest density of glial cells and synapses) exhibit the strongest coherence of the BOLD signal as well as the strongest intra-network connectivity. The Default Mode Network (DMN) is positioned near the opposite part of the spectrum with relatively low coherence of the BOLD signal but with a remarkably balanced cellular contents, enabling DMN to have a prominent role in the overall organization of the brain and hierarchy of functional networks.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1565
JournalBrain Sciences
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • Brain cellular composition
  • Default mode network
  • Functional connectivity networks
  • MRI
  • QGRE
  • Quantitative Gradient-Recalled Echo


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