Optical flow approaches to the identification of brain dynamics



The superior temporal resolution of magneto- and electroencephalography (MEEG) provides unique insight into the dynamics of brain function. The analysis of the spatial dimensions of MEEG recordings can take a multiplicity of approaches: from the original scalp recordings to the identification of their generators through localizing or imaging techniques. Overall, both MEEG native or imaging data may be considered as multidimensional structures with potentially dense information contents. Quantitative analysis of the spatiotemporal flow of information conveyed by MEEG begins with a feature-extraction problem, thereby leading to improved insight in the multidimensional structure of brain dynamics. In this contribution, we approach this endeavor by suggesting that brain dynamic features from local through global spatial scales may be identified using the previously-introduced technique of surface-based optical flow. We illustrate this assertion by the quantitative analysis of time-resolved sequences of brain activity through the identification of episodes of relative topographical stability. In that respect, we revisit the concept of brain microstates with a new approach and distinct operational hypotheses. Local dynamic features from a variety of brain systems may also be explored through this methodology, as illustrated by experimental data on fast responses in the visual system as revealed by MEEG source imaging. Hum Brain Mapp, 2009. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.