Significance of event related causality (ERC) in eloquent neural networks

Anna Korzeniewska, Takumi Mitsuhashi, Yujing Wang, Eishi Asano, Piotr J. Franaszczuk, Nathan E. Crone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Neural activity emerges and propagates swiftly between brain areas. Investigation of these transient large-scale flows requires sophisticated statistical models. We present a method for assessing the statistical confidence of event-related neural propagation. Furthermore, we propose a criterion for statistical model selection, based on both goodness of fit and width of confidence intervals. We show that event-related causality (ERC) with two-dimensional (2D) moving average, is an efficient estimator of task-related neural propagation and that it can be used to determine how different cognitive task demands affect the strength and directionality of neural propagation across human cortical networks. Using electrodes surgically implanted on the surface of the brain for clinical testing prior to epilepsy surgery, we recorded electrocorticographic (ECoG) signals as subjects performed three naming tasks: naming of ambiguous and unambiguous visual objects, and as a contrast, naming to auditory description. ERC revealed robust and statistically significant patterns of high gamma activity propagation, consistent with models of visually and auditorily cued word production. Interestingly, ambiguous visual stimuli elicited more robust propagation from visual to auditory cortices relative to unambiguous stimuli, whereas naming to auditory description elicited propagation in the opposite direction, consistent with recruitment of modalities other than those of the stimulus during object recognition and naming. The new method introduced here is uniquely suitable to both research and clinical applications and can be used to estimate the statistical significance of neural propagation for both cognitive neuroscientific studies and functional brain mapping prior to resective surgery for epilepsy and brain tumors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)204-216
Number of pages13
JournalNeural Networks
StatePublished - May 2022


  • Granger causality
  • Information flow
  • Multivariate autoregressive model
  • Neural networks interactions
  • Short-time direct directed transfer function
  • Time–frequency analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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