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

Individual differences in functional connectivity seem to be all the rage this month.

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.