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Journal: Human brain mapping


Deep learning with convolutional neural networks (deep ConvNets) has revolutionized computer vision through end-to-end learning, that is, learning from the raw data. There is increasing interest in using deep ConvNets for end-to-end EEG analysis, but a better understanding of how to design and train ConvNets for end-to-end EEG decoding and how to visualize the informative EEG features the ConvNets learn is still needed. Here, we studied deep ConvNets with a range of different architectures, designed for decoding imagined or executed tasks from raw EEG. Our results show that recent advances from the machine learning field, including batch normalization and exponential linear units, together with a cropped training strategy, boosted the deep ConvNets decoding performance, reaching at least as good performance as the widely used filter bank common spatial patterns (FBCSP) algorithm (mean decoding accuracies 82.1% FBCSP, 84.0% deep ConvNets). While FBCSP is designed to use spectral power modulations, the features used by ConvNets are not fixed a priori. Our novel methods for visualizing the learned features demonstrated that ConvNets indeed learned to use spectral power modulations in the alpha, beta, and high gamma frequencies, and proved useful for spatially mapping the learned features by revealing the topography of the causal contributions of features in different frequency bands to the decoding decision. Our study thus shows how to design and train ConvNets to decode task-related information from the raw EEG without handcrafted features and highlights the potential of deep ConvNets combined with advanced visualization techniques for EEG-based brain mapping. Hum Brain Mapp, 2017. © 2017 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Concepts: Psychology, Neuroscience, Cognitive science, Skill, Artificial intelligence, Machine learning, Learning, Knowledge


Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies in psychiatry use various tasks to identify case-control differences in the patterns of task-related brain activation. Differently activated regions are often ascribed disorder-specific functions in an attempt to link disease expression and brain function. We undertook a systematic meta-analysis of data from task-fMRI studies to examine the effect of diagnosis and study design on the spatial distribution and direction of case-control differences on brain activation. We mapped to atlas regions coordinates of case-control differences derived from 537 task-fMRI studies in schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, anxiety disorders, and obsessive compulsive disorder comprising observations derived from 21,427 participants. The fMRI tasks were classified according to the Research Domain Criteria (RDoC). We investigated whether diagnosis, RDoC domain or construct and use of regions-of-interest or whole-brain analyses influenced the neuroanatomical pattern of results. When considering all primary studies, we found an effect of diagnosis for the amygdala and caudate nucleus and an effect of RDoC domains and constructs for the amygdala, hippocampus, putamen and nucleus accumbens. In contrast, whole-brain studies did not identify any significant effect of diagnosis or RDoC domain or construct. These results resonate with prior reports of common brain structural and genetic underpinnings across these disorders and caution against attributing undue specificity to brain functional changes when forming explanatory models of psychiatric disorders. Hum Brain Mapp, 2016. © 2016 The Authors Human Brain Mapping Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Concepts: Neuroanatomy, Brain, Magnetic resonance imaging, Mental disorder, Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, Schizophrenia, Major depressive disorder, Suicide


Finding creative solutions to difficult problems is a fundamental aspect of human culture and a skill highly needed. However, the exact neural processes underlying creative problem solving remain unclear. Insightful problem solving tasks were shown to be a valid method for investigating one subcomponent of creativity: the Aha!-moment. Finding insightful solutions during a remote associates task (RAT) was found to elicit specific cortical activity changes. Considering the strong affective components of Aha!-moments, as manifested in the subjectively experienced feeling of relief following the sudden emergence of the solution of the problem without any conscious forewarning, we hypothesized the subcortical dopaminergic reward network to be critically engaged during Aha. To investigate those subcortical contributions to insight, we employed ultra-high-field 7 T fMRI during a German Version of the RAT. During this task, subjects were exposed to word triplets and instructed to find a solution word being associated with all the three given words. They were supposed to press a button as soon as they felt confident about their solution without further revision, allowing us to capture the exact event of Aha!-moment. Besides the finding on cortical involvement of the left anterior middle temporal gyrus (aMTG), here we showed for the first time robust subcortical activity changes related to insightful problem solving in the bilateral thalamus, hippocampus, and the dopaminergic midbrain comprising ventral tegmental area (VTA), nucleus accumbens (NAcc), and caudate nucleus. These results shed new light on the affective neural mechanisms underlying insightful problem solving.

Concepts: Cerebral cortex, Cerebrum, Basal ganglia, Substantia nigra, Striatum, Problem solving, Dopamine, Creativity


The origin, structure, and function of the claustrum, as well as its role in neural computation, have remained a mystery since its discovery in the 17th century. Assessing the in vivo connectivity of the claustrum may bring forth useful insights with relevance to model the overall functionality of the claustrum itself. Using structural and diffusion tensor neuroimaging in N = 100 healthy subjects, we found that the claustrum has the highest connectivity in the brain by regional volume. Network theoretical analyses revealed that (a) the claustrum is a primary contributor to global brain network architecture, and that (b) significant connectivity dependencies exist between the claustrum, frontal lobe, and cingulate regions. These results illustrate that the claustrum is ideally located within the human central nervous system (CNS) connectome to serve as the putative “gate keeper” of neural information for consciousness awareness. Our findings support and underscore prior theoretical contributions about the involvement of the claustrum in higher cognitive function and its relevance in devastating neurological disease. Hum Brain Mapp, 2014. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Concepts: Central nervous system, Nervous system, Psychology, Neuron, Brain, Neuroscience, Human brain, Neurology


Many studies report individual differences in functional connectivity, such as those related to age. However, estimates of connectivity from fMRI are confounded by other factors, such as vascular health, head motion and changes in the location of functional regions. Here, we investigate the impact of these confounds, and pre-processing strategies that can mitigate them, using data from the Cambridge Centre for Ageing & Neuroscience ( This dataset contained two sessions of resting-state fMRI from 214 adults aged 18-88. Functional connectivity between all regions was strongly related to vascular health, most likely reflecting respiratory and cardiac signals. These variations in mean connectivity limit the validity of between-participant comparisons of connectivity estimates, and were best mitigated by regression of mean connectivity over participants. We also showed that high-pass filtering, instead of band-pass filtering, produced stronger and more reliable age-effects. Head motion was correlated with gray-matter volume in selected brain regions, and with various cognitive measures, suggesting that it has a biological (trait) component, and warning against regressing out motion over participants. Finally, we showed that the location of functional regions was more variable in older adults, which was alleviated by smoothing the data, or using a multivariate measure of connectivity. These results demonstrate that analysis choices have a dramatic impact on connectivity differences between individuals, ultimately affecting the associations found between connectivity and cognition. It is important that fMRI connectivity studies address these issues, and we suggest a number of ways to optimize analysis choices. Hum Brain Mapp, 2017. © 2017 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Concepts: Psychology, Statistics, Senescence, Cognition, Gerontology, Ageing, Aging


Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is associated with poor self-control, underpinned by inferior fronto-striatal deficits. Real-time functional magnetic resonance neurofeedback (rtfMRI-NF) allows participants to gain self-control over dysregulated brain regions. Despite evidence for beneficial effects of electrophysiological-NF on ADHD symptoms, no study has applied the spatially superior rtfMRI-NF neurotherapy to ADHD. A randomized controlled trial tested the efficacy of rtfMRI-NF of right inferior prefrontal cortex (rIFG), a key region that is compromised in ADHD and upregulated with psychostimulants, on improvement of ADHD symptoms, cognition, and inhibitory fMRI activation. To control for region-specificity, an active control group received rtfMRI-NF of the left parahippocampal gyrus (lPHG). Thirty-one ADHD boys were randomly allocated and had to learn to upregulate their target brain region in an average of 11 rtfMRI-NF runs over 2 weeks. Feedback was provided through a video-clip of a rocket that had to be moved up into space. A transfer session without feedback tested learning retention as a proximal measure of transfer to everyday life. Both NF groups showed significant linear activation increases with increasing number of runs in their respective target regions and significant reduction in ADHD symptoms after neurotherapy and at 11-month follow-up. Only the group targeting rIFG, however, showed a transfer effect, which correlated with ADHD symptom reductions, improved at trend level in sustained attention, and showed increased IFG activation during an inhibitory fMRI task. This proof-of-concept study demonstrates for the first time feasibility, safety, and shorter- and longer-term efficacy of rtfMRI-NF of rIFG in adolescents with ADHD. Hum Brain Mapp, 2017. © 2017 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Concepts: Attention, Cerebrum, Educational psychology, Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, Hyperactivity, Stimulant


Recent studies in cognitive neuroscience have suggested that the integration of information about the internal bodily state and the external environment is crucial for the experience of emotion. Extensive overlap between the neural mechanisms underlying the subjective emotion and those involved in interoception (perception of that which is arising from inside the body) has been identified. However, the mechanisms of interaction between the neural substrates of interoception and emotional experience remain unclear. We examined the common and distinct features of the neural activity underlying evaluation of emotional and bodily state using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). The right anterior insular cortex and ventromedial prefrontal cortex (VMPFC) were identified as commonly activated areas. As both of these areas are considered critical for interoceptive awareness, these results suggest that attending to the bodily state underlies awareness of one’s emotional state. Uniquely activated areas involved in the evaluation of emotional state included the temporal pole, posterior and anterior cingulate cortex, medial frontal gyrus, and inferior frontal gyrus. Also the precuneus was functionally associated with activity of the right anterior insular cortex and VMPFC when evaluating emotional state. Our findings indicate that activation in these areas and the precuneus are functionally associated for accessing interoceptive information and underpinning subjective experience of the emotional state. Thus, awareness of one’s own emotional state appears to involve the integration of interoceptive information with an interpretation of the current situation. Hum Brain Mapp, 2013. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Concepts: Psychology, Brain, Neuroscience, Magnetic resonance imaging, Cerebrum, Limbic system, Anterior cingulate cortex, Insular cortex


Schizophrenia is often regarded as a “dysconnectivity” disorder and recent work using graph theory has been used to better characterize dysconnectivity of the structural connectome in schizophrenia. However, there are still little data on the topology of connectomes in less severe forms of the condition. Such analysis will identify topological markers of less severe disease states and provide potential predictors of further disease development. Individuals with psychotic experiences (PEs) were identified from a population-based cohort without relying on participants presenting to clinical services. Such individuals have an increased risk of developing clinically significant psychosis. 123 individuals with PEs and 125 controls were scanned with diffusion-weighted MRI. Whole-brain structural connectomes were derived and a range of global and local GT-metrics were computed. Global efficiency and density were significantly reduced in individuals with PEs. Local efficiency was reduced in a number of regions, including critical network hubs. Further analysis of functional subnetworks showed differential impairment of the default mode network. An additional analysis of pair-wise connections showed no evidence of differences in individuals with PEs. These results are consistent with previous findings in schizophrenia. Reduced efficiency in critical core hubs suggests the brains of individuals with PEs may be particularly predisposed to dysfunction. The absence of any detectable effects in pair-wise connections illustrates that, at less severe stages of psychosis, white-matter alterations are subtle and only manifest when examining network topology. This study indicates that topology could be a sensitive biomarker for early stages of psychotic illness. Hum Brain Mapp, 2015.© 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Concepts: Graph theory, Schizophrenia, Psychosis


The majority of patients with schizophrenia suffer from hallucinations. While the triple-network model, which includes the default mode network (DMN), the central executive network (CEN) and the salience network (SAL), has recently been applied to schizophrenia, how this framework could explain the emergence of hallucinations remains unclear. Therefore, complementary brain regions that have been linked to hallucinations, such as the left hippocampus, should also be considered and added to this model. Accordingly, the present study explored the effective connectivity across these four components (i.e., the quadripartite model) during the different stages of hallucinations. Twenty-five patients with schizophrenia participated in a single session of resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging to capture hallucinatory experiences. Based on the participants' self-report of the psychosensory experiences that occurred during scanning, hallucinatory experiences were identified and divided into four stages: periods without hallucination (“OFF”), periods with hallucination (“ON”), transition periods between “OFF” and “ON”, and the extinction of the hallucinatory experience (“END”). Using stochastic dynamic causal modeling analysis, this study first confirmed that the SAL played a critical and causal role in switching between the CEN and the DMN in schizophrenia. In addition, effective connectivity within the quadripartite model depended on the hallucinatory stage. In particular, “ON” periods were linked to memory-based sensory input from the hippocampus to the SAL, while “END” periods were associated with a takeover of the CEN in favor of a voluntary process. Finally, the pathophysiological and therapeutic implications of these findings are critically discussed. Hum Brain Mapp, 2016. © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Concepts: Brain, Magnetic resonance imaging, Hippocampus, Schizophrenia, Hallucination, Psychosis, Psychedelics, dissociatives and deliriants, Hallucinations in the sane


Differences between males and females have been extensively documented in biological, psychological, and behavioral domains. Among these, sex differences in the rate and typology of antisocial behavior remains one of the most conspicuous and enduring patterns among humans. However, the nature and extent of sexual dimorphism in the brain among antisocial populations remains mostly unexplored. Here, we seek to understand sex differences in brain structure between incarcerated males and females in a large sample (n = 1,300) using machine learning. We apply source-based morphometry, a contemporary multivariate approach for quantifying gray matter measured with magnetic resonance imaging, and carry these parcellations forward using machine learning to classify sex. Models using components of brain gray matter volume and concentration were able to differentiate between males and females with greater than 93% generalizable accuracy. Highly differentiated components include orbitofrontal and frontopolar regions, proportionally larger in females, and anterior medial temporal regions proportionally larger in males. We also provide a complimentary analysis of a nonforensic healthy control sample and replicate our 93% sex discrimination. These findings demonstrate that the brains of males and females are highly distinguishable. Understanding sex differences in the brain has implications for elucidating variability in the incidence and progression of disease, psychopathology, and differences in psychological traits and behavior. The reliability of these differences confirms the importance of sex as a moderator of individual differences in brain structure and suggests future research should consider sex specific models.