Spontaneously emerging patterns in human visual cortex and their functional connectivity are linked to the patterns evoked by visual stimuli

J Neurophysiol. 2020 Sep 23. doi: 10.1152/jn.00630.2019. Online ahead of print.


The function of spontaneous brain activity is an important issue in neuroscience. Here we test the hypothesis that patterns of spontaneous activity code representational patterns evoked by stimuli. We compared in human visual cortex multi-vertex patterns of spontaneous activity to patterns evoked by ecological visual stimuli (faces, bodies, scenes) and low-level visual features (e.g. phase-scrambled faces). Specifically, we identified regions that preferred particular stimulus categories during localizer scans (e.g. extra-striate body area for bodies), measured multi-vertex patterns for each category during event-related task scans, and then correlated over vertices these stimulus-evoked patterns to the pattern measured on each frame of resting-state scans. The mean correlation coefficient was essentially zero for all regions/stimulus categories, indicating that resting multi-vertex patterns were not biased toward particular stimulus-evoked patterns. However, the spread of correlation coefficients between stimulus-evoked and resting patterns, positive and negative, was significantly greater for the preferred stimulus category of an ROI. The relationship between spontaneous and stimulus-evoked multi-vertex patterns also governed the temporal correlation or functional connectivity of patterns of spontaneous activity between individual regions (pattern-based functional connectivity). Resting multi-vertex patterns related to an object category fluctuated preferentially between ROIs preferring the same category, and fluctuations of the pattern for a category (e.g. body) within its preferred ROIs were largely uncorrelated with fluctuations of the pattern for a disparate category (e.g. scene) within its preferred ROIs. These results support the proposal that spontaneous multi-vertex activity patterns are linked to stimulus-evoked patterns, consistent with a representational function for spontaneous activity.

PMID:32965156 | DOI:10.1152/jn.00630.2019