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Advances in artificial intelligence have inspired a paradigm shift in human neuroscience, yielding large-scale functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) datasets that provide high-resolution brain responses to thousands of naturalistic visual stimuli. Because such experiments necessarily involve brief stimulus durations and few repetitions of each stimulus, achieving sufficient signal-to-noise ratio can be a major challenge. We address this challenge by introducing GLMsingle , a scalable, user-friendly toolbox available in MATLAB and Python that enables accurate estimation of single-trial fMRI responses ( glmsingle.org ). Requiring only fMRI time-series data and a design matrix as inputs, GLMsingle integrates three techniques for improving the accuracy of trial-wise general linear model (GLM) beta estimates. First, for each voxel, a custom hemodynamic response function (HRF) is identified from a library of candidate functions. Second, cross-validation is used to derive a set of noise regressors from voxels unrelated to the experiment. Third, to improve the stability of beta estimates for closely spaced trials, betas are regularized on a voxel-wise basis using ridge regression. Applying GLMsingle to the Natural Scenes Dataset and BOLD5000, we find that GLMsingle substantially improves the reliability of beta estimates across visually-responsive cortex in all subjects. Comparable improvements in reliability are also observed inmore »
Abstract Naturalistic stimuli evoke strong, consistent, and information-rich patterns of brain activity, and engage large extents of the human brain. They allow researchers to compare highly similar brain responses across subjects, and to study how complex representations are encoded in brain activity. Here, we describe and share a dataset where 25 subjects watched part of the feature film “The Grand Budapest Hotel” by Wes Anderson. The movie has a large cast with many famous actors. Throughout the story, the camera shots highlight faces and expressions, which are fundamental to understand the complex narrative of the movie. This movie was chosen to sample brain activity specifically related to social interactions and face processing. This dataset provides researchers with fMRI data that can be used to explore social cognitive processes and face processing, adding to the existing neuroimaging datasets that sample brain activity with naturalistic movies.
Naturalistic Audio-Movies reveal common spatial organization across “visual” cortices of different blind individuals
Occipital cortices of different sighted people contain analogous maps of visual information (e.g. foveal vs. peripheral). In congenital blindness, “visual” cortices respond to nonvisual stimuli. Do visual cortices of different blind people represent common informational maps? We leverage naturalistic stimuli and inter-subject pattern similarity analysis to address this question. Blindfolded sighted (n = 22) and congenitally blind (n = 22) participants listened to 6 sound clips (5–7 min each): 3 auditory excerpts from movies; a naturalistic spoken narrative; and matched degraded auditory stimuli (Backwards Speech, scrambled sentences), during functional magnetic resonance imaging scanning. We compared the spatial activity patterns evoked by each unique 10-s segment of the different auditory excerpts across blind and sighted people. Segments of meaningful naturalistic stimuli produced distinctive activity patterns in frontotemporal networks that were shared across blind and across sighted individuals. In the blind group only, segment-specific, cross-subject patterns emerged in visual cortex, but only for meaningful naturalistic stimuli and not Backwards Speech. Spatial patterns of activity within visual cortices are sensitive to time-varying information in meaningful naturalistic auditory stimuli in a broadly similar manner across blind individuals.
Type 2 diabetes mellitus accelerates brain aging and cognitive decline: Complementary findings from UK Biobank and meta-analysesBackground: Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) is known to be associated with neurobiological and cognitive deficits; however, their extent, overlap with aging effects, and the effectiveness of existing treatments in the context of the brain are currently unknown. Methods: We characterized neurocognitive effects independently associated with T2DM and age in a large cohort of human subjects from the UK Biobank with cross-sectional neuroimaging and cognitive data. We then proceeded to evaluate the extent of overlap between the effects related to T2DM and age by applying correlation measures to the separately characterized neurocognitive changes. Our findings were complemented by meta-analyses of published reports with cognitive or neuroimaging measures for T2DM and healthy controls (HCs). We also evaluated in a cohort of T2DM-diagnosed individuals using UK Biobank how disease chronicity and metformin treatment interact with the identified neurocognitive effects. Results: The UK Biobank dataset included cognitive and neuroimaging data (N = 20,314), including 1012 T2DM and 19,302 HCs, aged between 50 and 80 years. Duration of T2DM ranged from 0 to 31 years (mean 8.5 ± 6.1 years); 498 were treated with metformin alone, while 352 were unmedicated. Our meta-analysis evaluated 34 cognitive studies (N = 22,231) and 60 neuroimaging studies: 30more »
Successful communication and cooperation among different members of society depends, in part, on a consistent understanding of the physical and social world. What drives this alignment in perspectives? We present evidence from two neuroimaging studies using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI;
N= 66 with 2145 dyadic comparisons) and electroencephalography (EEG; N= 225 with 25,200 dyadic comparisons) to show that: (1) the extent to which people’s neural responses are synchronized when viewing naturalistic stimuli is related to their personality profiles, and (2) that this effect is stronger than that of similarity in gender, ethnicity and political affiliation. The localization of the fMRI results in combination with the additional eye tracking analyses suggest that the relationship between personality similarity and neural synchrony likely reflects alignment in the interpretation of stimuli and not alignment in overt visual attention. Together, the findings suggest that similarity in psychological dispositions aligns people’s reality via shared interpretations of the external world.