Time-varying cortical connectivity by high resolution EEG and directed transfer function: simulations and application to finger tapping data.
ABSTRACT The problem of the definition and evaluation of brain connectivity has become a central one in neuroscience during the latest years, as a way to understand the organization and interaction of cortical areas during the execution of cognitive or motor tasks. The method of the directed transfer function (DTF) is a frequency-domain approach to this problem, based on a multivariate autoregressive modeling of time series and on the concept of Granger causality. So far, all the connectivity estimations performed on cerebral electromagnetic signals were computed between signals gathered from the electric or magnetic sensors. However, the spreading of the potential from the cortex to the sensors makes it difficult to infer the relation between the spatial patterns on the sensor space and those on the cortical sites. In this paper we propose the use of the DTF method on cortical signals estimated from high resolution EEG recordings, which exhibit a higher spatial resolution than conventional cerebral electromagnetic measures. As main contributions of this work, we present the results of a wide simulation study, aiming to evaluate performances of DTF application on this kind of data, and a statistical analysis (via the ANOVA, analysis of variance) of the results obtained for different levels of signal to noise ratio and temporal length, as they have been systematically imposed on simulated signals. Finally, we provide an application to the estimation of cortical connectivity from high resolution EEG recordings related to finger tapping movements.
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ABSTRACT: This work presents an immersive Virtual Reality (VR) system to evaluate, and potentially treat, the alterations in rhythmic hand movements seen in Parkinson's disease (PD) and the elderly (EC), by comparison with healthy young controls (YC). The system integrates the subjects into a VR environment by means of a Head Mounted Display, such that subjects perceive themselves in a virtual world consisting of a table within a room. In this experiment, subjects are presented in 1(st) person perspective, so that the avatar reproduces finger tapping movements performed by the subjects. The task, known as the finger tapping test (FT), was performed by all three subject groups, PD, EC and YC. FT was carried out by each subject on two different days (sessions), one week apart. In each FT session all subjects performed FT in the real world (FT(REAL)) and in the VR (FT(VR)); each mode was repeated three times in randomized order. During FT both the tapping frequency and the coefficient of variation of inter-tap interval were registered. FT(VR) was a valid test to detect differences in rhythm formation between the three groups. Intra-class correlation coefficients (ICC) and mean difference between days for FT(VR) (for each group) showed reliable results. Finally, the analysis of ICC and mean difference between FT(VR) vs FT(REAL), for each variable and group, also showed high reliability. This shows that FT evaluation in VR environments is valid as real world alternative, as VR evaluation did not distort movement execution and detects alteration in rhythm formation. These results support the use of VR as a promising tool to study alterations and the control of movement in different subject groups in unusual environments, such as during fMRI or other imaging studies.PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(1):e30021. · 3.73 Impact Factor