Despite growing interest in multi-voxel pattern analysis (MVPA) methods for fMRI, a major problem remains--that of generating estimates in rapid event-related (ER) designs, where the BOLD responses of temporally adjacent events will overlap. While this problem has been investigated for methods that reduce each event to a single parameter per voxel (Mumford et al., 2012), most of these methods make strong parametric assumptions about the shape of the hemodynamic response, and require exact knowledge of the temporal profile of the underlying neural activity. A second class of methods uses multiple parameters per event (per voxel) to capture temporal information more faithfully. In addition to enabling a more accurate estimate of ER responses, this allows for the extension of the standard classification paradigm into the temporal domain (e.g., Mourão-Miranda et al., 2007). However, existing methods in this class were developed for use with block and slow ER data, and there has not yet been an exploration of how to adapt such methods to data collected using rapid ER designs. Here, we demonstrate that the use of multiple parameters preserves or improves classification accuracy, while additionally providing information on the evolution of class discrimination. Additionally, we explore an alternative to the method of Mourão-Miranda et al. tailored to use in rapid ER designs that yields equivalent classification accuracies, but is better at unmixing responses to temporally adjacent events. The current work paves the way for wider adoption of spatiotemporal classification analyses, and greater use of MVPA with rapid ER designs.
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