Functional connectivity (FC) and its time-varying analogue (TVFC) leverage brain imaging data to interpret brain function as patterns of coordinating activity among brain regions. While many questions remain regarding the organizing principles through which brain function emerges from multi-regional interactions, advances in the mathematics of Topological Data Analysis (TDA) may provide new insights into the brain’s spontaneous self-organization. One tool from TDA, "persistent homology", observes the occurrence and the persistence of n-dimensional holes presented in the metric space over a dataset. The occurrence of n-dimensional holes within the TVFC point cloud may denote conserved and preferred routes of information flow among brain regions. In the present study, we compare the use of persistence homology versus more traditional TVFC metrics at the task of segmenting brain states that differ across a common time-series of experimental conditions. We find that the structures identified by persistence homology more accurately segment the stimuli, more accurately segment volunteer performance during experimentally defined tasks, and generalize better across volunteers. Finally, we present empirical and theoretical observations that interpret brain function as a topological space defined by cyclic and interlinked motifs among distributed brain regions, especially, the attention networks.
bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience