Assessing Thalamocortical functional connectivity with granger causality

Cheng Chen, Anil Maybhate, David Israel, Nitish V. Thakor, Xiaofeng Jia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Assessment of network connectivity across multiple brain regions is critical to understanding the mechanisms underlying various neurological disorders. Conventional methods for assessing dynamic interactions include cross-correlation and coherence analysis. However, these methods do not reveal the direction of information flow, which is important for studying the highly directional neurological system. Granger causality (GC) analysis can characterize the directional influences between two systems. We tested GC analysis for its capability to capture directional interactions within both simulated and in vivo neural networks. The simulated networks consisted of Hindmarsh-Rose neurons; GC analysis was used to estimate the causal influences between two model networks. Our analysis successfully detected asymmetrical interactions between these networks (p < 10 -10, t -test). Next, we characterized the relationship between the 'electrical synaptic strength' in the model networks and interactions estimated by GC analysis. We demonstrated the novel application of GC to monitor interactions between thalamic and cortical neurons following ischemia induced brain injury in a rat model of cardiac arrest (CA). We observed that during the post-CA acute period the GC interactions from the thalamus to the cortex were consistently higher than those from the cortex to the thalamus (1.983\pm 0.278 times higher, p= 0.021). In addition, the dynamics of GC interactions between the thalamus and the cortex were frequency dependent. Our study demonstrated the feasibility of GC to monitor the dynamics of thalamocortical interactions after a global nervous system injury such as CA-induced ischemia, and offers preferred alternative applications in characterizing other inter-regional interactions in an injured brain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number6557000
Pages (from-to)725-733
Number of pages9
JournalIEEE Transactions on Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2013


  • Cardiac arrest
  • granger causality
  • local field potentials
  • network connectivity
  • thalamocortical network

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • General Neuroscience
  • Internal Medicine
  • Biomedical Engineering


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