Topological View of Flows Inside the BOLD Spontaneous Activity of the Human Brain

Front Comput Neurosci. 2020 Apr 22;14:34. doi: 10.3389/fncom.2020.00034. eCollection 2020.


Spatio-temporal brain activities with variable delay detectable in resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rs-fMRI) give rise to highly reproducible structures, termed cortical lag threads, that propagate from one brain region to another. Using a computational topology of data approach, we found that persistent, recurring blood oxygen level dependent (BOLD) signals in triangulated rs-fMRI videoframes display previously undetected topological findings, i.e., vortex structures that cover brain activated regions. Measure of persistence of vortex shapes in BOLD signal propagation is carried out in terms of Betti numbers that rise and fall over time during spontaneous activity of the brain. Importantly, a topology of data given in terms of geometric shapes of BOLD signal propagation offers a practical approach in coping with and sidestepping massive noise in neurodata, such as unwanted dark (low intensity) regions in the neighborhood of non-zero BOLD signals. Our findings have been codified and visualized in plots able to track the non-trivial BOLD signals that appear intermittently in a sequence of rs-fMRI videoframes. The end result of this tracking of changing lag structures is a so-called persistent barcode, which is a pictograph that offers a convenient visual means of exhibiting, comparing, and classifying brain activation patterns.

Keywords: Betti Numbers; brain activity; fMRI video; persistence bar code; topological data analysis.