Beyond Functional Connectivity: Investigating Networks of Multivariate Representations

Published in: Trends in Cognitive Sciences, Volume 22, Issue 3, 258 – 269

“A family of novel methods study the interactions between brain regions taking advantage of the information encoded in multivariate patterns of responses.

Some of these methods additionally capture nonlinear interactions, offering insights into how representations are transformed from brain region to brain region.

These advances enable researchers to ask questions not only about whether, but also about how multiple brain regions interact.

For over two decades, interactions between brain regions have been measured in humans by asking how the univariate responses in different regions co-vary (‘Functional Connectivity’). Thousands of Functional Connectivity studies have been published investigating the healthy brain and how it is affected by neural disorders. The advent of multivariate fMRI analyses showed that patterns of responses within regions encode information that is lost by averaging. Despite this, connectivity methods predominantly continue to focus on univariate responses. In this review, we discuss the recent emergence of multivariate and nonlinear methods for studying interactions between brain regions. These new developments bring sensitivity to fluctuations in multivariate information, and offer the possibility to ask not only whether brain regions interact, but how they do so.”

Written by: Stefano Anzellotti, Marc N. Coutanche

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