Good-Enough Brain Model: Challenges, Algorithms and Discoveries in Multi-Subject Experiments

author: Evangelos Papalexakis, Computer Science Department, Carnegie Mellon University
published: Oct. 7, 2014,   recorded: August 2014,   views: 1819


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Given a simple noun such as {\em apple}, and a question such as "is it edible?", what processes take place in the human brain? More specifically, given the stimulus, what are the interactions between (groups of) neurons (also known as functional connectivity) and how can we automatically infer those interactions, given measurements of the brain activity? Furthermore, how does this connectivity differ across different human subjects?

In this work we present a simple, novel good-enough brain model, or GeBM in short, and a novel algorithm Sparse-SysId, which are able to effectively model the dynamics of the neuron interactions and infer the functional connectivity. Moreover, GeBM is able to simulate basic psychological phenomena such as habituation and priming (whose definition we provide in the main text).

We evaluate GeBM by using both synthetic and real brain data. Using the real data, GeBM produces brain activity patterns that are strikingly similar to the real ones, and the inferred functional connectivity is able to provide neuroscientific insights towards a better understanding of the way that neurons interact with each other, as well as detect regularities and outliers in multi-subject brain activity measurements.

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