Generative models of the human connectome

Richard F. Betzel, Andrea Avena-Koenigsberger, Joaquín Goñi, Ye He, Marcel A. de Reus, Alessandra Griffa, Petra E. Vértes, Bratislav Mišic, Jean Philippe Thiran, Patric Hagmann, Martijn van den Heuvel, Xi Nian Zuo, Edward T. Bullmore, Olaf Sporns

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

187 Citations (Scopus)


The human connectome represents a network map of the brain's wiring diagram and the pattern into which its connections are organized is thought to play an important role in cognitive function. The generative rules that shape the topology of the human connectome remain incompletely understood. Earlier work in model organisms has suggested that wiring rules based on geometric relationships (distance) can account for many but likely not all topological features. Here we systematically explore a family of generative models of the human connectome that yield synthetic networks designed according to different wiring rules combining geometric and a broad range of topological factors. We find that a combination of geometric constraints with a homophilic attachment mechanism can create synthetic networks that closely match many topological characteristics of individual human connectomes, including features that were not included in the optimization of the generative model itself. We use these models to investigate a lifespan dataset and show that, with age, the model parameters undergo progressive changes, suggesting a rebalancing of the generative factors underlying the connectome across the lifespan.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1054-1064
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016


  • Connectome
  • Generative models
  • Graph theory

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