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  1. Understanding neural function often requires multiple modalities of data, including electrophysiogical data, imaging techniques, and demographic surveys. In this paper, we introduce a novel neurophysiological model to tackle major challenges in modeling multimodal data. First, we avoid non-alignment issues between raw signals and extracted, frequency-domain features by addressing the issue of variable sampling rates. Second, we encode modalities through “cross-attention” with other modalities. Lastly, we utilize properties of our parent transformer architecture to model long-range dependencies between segments across modalities and assess intermediary weights to better understand how source signals affect prediction. We apply our Multimodal Neurophysiological Transformer (MNT) to predict valence and arousal in an existing open-source dataset. Experiments on non-aligned multimodal time-series show that our model performs similarly and, in some cases, outperforms existing methods in classification tasks. In addition, qualitative analysis suggests that MNT is able to model neural influences on autonomic activity in predicting arousal. Our architecture has the potential to be fine-tuned to a variety of downstream tasks, including for BCI systems.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 11, 2023
  2. Abstract

    Objective.Reorienting is central to how humans direct attention to different stimuli in their environment. Previous studies typically employ well-controlled paradigms with limited eye and head movements to study the neural and physiological processes underlying attention reorienting. Here, we aim to better understand the relationship between gaze and attention reorienting using a naturalistic virtual reality (VR)-based target detection paradigm.Approach.Subjects were navigated through a city and instructed to count the number of targets that appeared on the street. Subjects performed the task in a fixed condition with no head movement and in a free condition where head movements were allowed. Electroencephalography (EEG), gaze and pupil data were collected. To investigate how neural and physiological reorienting signals are distributed across different gaze events, we used hierarchical discriminant component analysis (HDCA) to identify EEG and pupil-based discriminating components. Mixed-effects general linear models (GLM) were used to determine the correlation between these discriminating components and the different gaze events time. HDCA was also used to combine EEG, pupil and dwell time signals to classify reorienting events.Main results.In both EEG and pupil, dwell time contributes most significantly to the reorienting signals. However, when dwell times were orthogonalized against other gaze events, the distributions of themore »reorienting signals were different across the two modalities, with EEG reorienting signals leading that of the pupil reorienting signals. We also found that the hybrid classifier that integrates EEG, pupil and dwell time features detects the reorienting signals in both the fixed (AUC = 0.79) and the free (AUC = 0.77) condition.Significance.We show that the neural and ocular reorienting signals are distributed differently across gaze events when a subject is immersed in VR, but nevertheless can be captured and integrated to classify target vs. distractor objects to which the human subject orients.

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  3. Virtual reality (VR) offers the potential to study brain function in complex, ecologically realistic environments. However, the additional degrees of freedom make analysis more challenging, particularly with respect to evoked neural responses. In this paper we designed a target detection task in VR where we varied the visual angle of targets as subjects moved through a three dimensional maze. We investigated how the latency and shape of the classic P300 evoked response varied as a function of locking the electroencephalogram data to the target image onset, the target-saccade intersection, and the first fixation on the target. We found, as expected, a systematic shift in the timing of the evoked responses as a function of the type of response locking, as well as a difference in the shape of the waveforms. Interestingly, single-trial analysis showed that the peak discriminability of the evoked responses does not differ between image locked and saccade locked analysis, though it decreases significantly when fixation locked. These results suggest that there is a spread in the perception of visual information in VR environments across time and visual space. Our results point to the importance of considering how information may be perceived in naturalistic environments, specifically those thatmore »have more complexity and higher degrees of freedom than in traditional laboratory paradigms.« less