State and trait components of functional connectivity: Individual differences vary with mental state

Linda Geerligs, Mikail Rubinov, Lorraine K. Tyler, Carol Brayne, Edward T. Bullmore, Andrew C. Calder, Rhodri Cusack, Tim Dalgleish, John Duncan, Richard N. Henson, Fiona E. Matthews, William D. Marslen-Wilson, James B. Rowe, Meredith A. Shafto, Karen Campbell, Teresa Cheung, Simon Davis, Linda Geerligs, Rogier Kievit, Anna McCarreyAbdur Mustafa, Darren Price, David Samu, Jason R. Taylor, Matthias Treder, Kamen Tsvetanov, Janna van Belle, Nitin Williams, Lauren Bates, Tina Emery, Sharon Erzinçlioglu, Andrew Gadie, Sofia Gerbase, Stanimira Georgieva, Claire Hanley, Beth Parkin, David Troy, Tibor Auer, Marta Correia, Lu Gao, Emma Green, Rafael Henriques, Jodie Allen, Gillian Amery, Liana Amunts, Anne Barcroft, Amanda Castle, Cheryl Dias, Jonathan Dowrick, Melissa Fair, Hayley Fisher, Anna Goulding, Adarsh Grewal, Geoff Hale, Andrew Hilton, Frances Johnson, Patricia Johnston, Thea Kavanagh-Williamson, Magdalena Kwasniewska, Alison McMinn, Kim Norman, Jessica Penrose, Fiona Roby, Diane Rowland, John Sargeant, Maggie Squire, Beth Stevens, Aldabra Stoddart, Cheryl Stone, Tracy Thompson, Ozlem Yazlik, Dan Barnes, Marie Dixon, Jaya Hillman, Joanne Mitchell, Laura Villis, Richard N. Henson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

165 Citations (Scopus)


Resting-state functional connectivity, as measured by functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), is often treated as a trait, used, for example, to draw inferences about individual differences in cognitive function, or differences between healthy or diseased populations. However, functional connectivity can also depend on the individual’s mental state. In the present study, we examined the relative contribution of state and trait components in shaping an individual’s functional architecture. We used fMRI data from a large, population-based human sample (N=587, age 18–88 years), as part of the Cambridge Centre for Aging and Neuroscience (Cam-CAN), which were collected in three mental states: resting, performing a sensorimotor task, and watching a movie. Whereas previous studies have shown commonalities across mental states in the average functional connectivity across individuals, we focused on the effects of states on the pattern of individual differences in functional connectivity. We found that state effects were as important as trait effects in shaping individual functional connectivity patterns, each explaining an approximately equal amount of variance. This was true when we looked at aging, as one specific dimension of individual differences, as well as when we looked at generic aspects of individual variation. These results show that individual differences in functional connectivity consist of state-dependent aspects, as well as more stable, trait-like characteristics. Studying individual differences in functional connectivity across a wider range of mental states will therefore provide a more complete picture of the mechanisms underlying factors such as cognitive ability, aging, and disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13949-13961
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number41
Publication statusPublished - 14 Oct 2015


  • Aging
  • Brain connectivity
  • fMRI
  • Network
  • Resting state


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