Delineating between-subject heterogeneity in alpha networks with Spatio-Spectral Eigenmodes

Neuroimage. 2021 Oct 15;240:118330. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2021.118330. Epub 2021 Jul 6.


Between subject variability in the spatial and spectral structure of oscillatory networks can be highly informative but poses a considerable analytic challenge. Here, we describe a data-driven modal decomposition of a multivariate autoregressive model that simultaneously identifies oscillations by their peak frequency, damping time and network structure. We use this decomposition to define a set of Spatio-Spectral Eigenmodes (SSEs) providing a parsimonious description of oscillatory networks. We show that the multivariate system transfer function can be rewritten in these modal coordinates, and that the full transfer function is a linear superposition of all modes in the decomposition. The modal transfer function is a linear summation and therefore allows for single oscillatory signals to be isolated and analysed in terms of their spectral content, spatial distribution and network structure. We validate the method on simulated data and explore the structure of whole brain oscillatory networks in eyes-open resting state MEG data from the Human Connectome Project. We are able to show a wide between participant variability in peak frequency and network structure of alpha oscillations and show a distinction between occipital 'high-frequency alpha' and parietal 'low-frequency alpha'. The frequency difference between occipital and parietal alpha components is present within individual participants but is partially masked by larger between subject variability; a 10Hz oscillation may represent the high-frequency occipital component in one participant and the low-frequency parietal component in another. This rich characterisation of individual neural phenotypes has the potential to enhance analyses into the relationship between neural dynamics and a person's behavioural, cognitive or clinical state.

Keywords: Alpha oscillation; Autoregression; Eigenmodes; MEG; Network; Spectral decomposition.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alpha Rhythm / physiology*
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging*
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Connectome / methods*
  • Humans
  • Magnetoencephalography / methods*
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Neural Networks, Computer*