Neuromagnetic activation dynamics of stimulus-locked processing during a naturalistic viewing
Naturalistic stimuli such as watching a movie while in the scanner provide an ecologically valid paradigm that has the potential of extracting valuable information on how the brain processes complex stimuli in a short period of time. Naturalistic viewing is also easier to conduct with challenging participant groups including patients and children. Given the high temporal resolution of MEG, in the present study, we demonstrate how a short movie clip can be used to map distinguishable activation
... ynamics underlying the processing of specific classes of visual stimuli such as face and hand manipulations, as well as auditory stimuli with words and non-words. MEG data were collected from 22 healthy volunteers (6 females, 3 left handed, mean age 27.7 +/- 5.28 years) during the presentation of naturalistic audiovisual stimuli. The MEG data were split into trials with the onset of the stimuli belonging to classes of interest (words, non-words, faces, hand manipulations). Based on the components of the averaged sensor ERFs time-locked to the visual and auditory stimulus onset, four and three time-windows, respectively, were defined to explore brain activation dynamics. Pseudo-Z, defined as the ratio of the source-projected time-locked power to the projected noise power for each vertex, was computed and used as a proxy of time-locked brain activation. Statistical testing using the mean-centered Partial Least Squares analysis indicated periods where a given visual or auditory stimuli had higher activation. Based on peak pseudo-Z differences between the visual conditions, time-frequency resolved analyses were carried to assess beta band desynchronization in motor-related areas, and inter-trial phase synchronization between face processing areas. Our results provide the first evidence that activation dynamics in canonical brain regions associated with the processing of particular classes of visual and auditory stimuli (words, faces, etc.) can be reliably mapped using MEG during presentation of naturalistic stimuli. Given the strength of MEG for brain mapping in temporal and frequency domains, the use of naturalistic stimuli may open new techniques in analyzing brain dynamics during ecologically valid sensation and perception.