Recent resting-state fMRI studies have shown that brain activity exhibits temporal variations in functional connectivity by using various approaches including sliding window correlation, co-activation patterns, independent component analysis, quasi-periodic patterns, and hidden Markov models. These methods often model the brain activity as a discretized hopping among several brain states that are defined by the spatial configurations of network activity. However, the discretized states are merely a simplification of what is likely to be a continuous process, where each network evolves over time following its unique path. To model these characteristic spatiotemporal trajectories, we trained a variational autoencoder using rs-fMRI data and evaluated the spatiotemporal features of the latent variables obtained from the trained networks. Our results suggest that there are a relatively small number of approximately orthogonal whole-brain spatiotemporal patterns that capture the most prominent features of rs-fMRI data, which can serve as the building blocks to construct all possible spatiotemporal dynamics in resting state fMRI. These spatiotemporal patterns provide insight into how activity flows across the brain in concordance with known network structures and functional connectivity gradients.
bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience