Background: The precuneus is involved in cognition and depression; static functional connectivity (SFC) abnormalities of this region have been observed in neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorders (NMOSD). Time-varying functional connectivity (TVC) underpins dynamic variations of brain connectivity. Objective: The aim of this study was to explore precuneus SFC and TVC in NMOSD patients and their associations with neuropsychological features. Methods: This retrospective study includes 27 NMOSD patients and 30 matched healthy controls undergoing resting state functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and a neuropsychological evaluation of cognitive performance and depressive symptoms. A sliding-window correlation analysis using bilateral precuneus as seed region assessed TVC, which was quantified by the standard deviation of connectivity across windows. Mean connectivity indicated SFC. Results: Compared to controls, patients had reduced SFC between precuneus, temporal lobe, putamen and cerebellum, and reduced TVC between precuneus and prefronto-parietal-temporo-occipital cortices and caudate. Patients also had increased intra-precuneal TVC and increased TVC between the precuneus and the temporal cortex. More severe depressive symptoms correlated with increased TVC between the precuneus and the temporal lobe; worse cognitive performance mainly correlated with higher TVC between the precuneus and the parietal lobe. Conclusion: TVC rather than SFC of the precuneus correlates with NMOSD neuropsychological features; different TVC abnormalities underlie depressive symptoms and cognitive impairment.
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