The multiscale character of evoked cortical activity

Michael Breakspear, Ed T. Bullmore, Kevin Aquino, Pritha Das, Leanne M. Williams

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12 Citations (Scopus)


Both the architecture and the dynamics of the brain have characteristic features at different spatial scales. However, the existence, nature and function of dynamical interdependencies between such scales have not been investigated. We studied the multiscale properties of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data acquired while human subjects viewed a visual image. Traditional "region of interest" analysis of this data set revealed evoked activity in primary and extrastriate visual cortex. Wavelet transform in the spatial domain provides a multiscale representation of this evoked brain activity. Studying the correlation structure of this representation revealed strong and novel interdependencies in these data within and between different spatial scales. We found that such correlations are stronger than those evident in the original data and comparable in magnitude to those obtained after Gaussian smoothing. However, analysis of the data in the wavelet domain revealed additional structure such as positive correlations, strong anti-correlations and phase-lagged interdependencies. Statistical significance of these effects was inferred through nonparametric bootstrap techniques. We conclude that the spatial analysis of functional neuroimaging data in the wavelet domain provides novel information which may reflect complex spatiotemporal neuronal activity and information encoding. It also affords a quantitative means of testing hierarchical and multiscale models of cortical activity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1230-1242
Number of pages13
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Complexity
  • Functional connectivity
  • Neural dynamics
  • Neurovascular coupling
  • Wavelet analysis

Cite this

Breakspear, M., Bullmore, E. T., Aquino, K., Das, P., & Williams, L. M. (2006). The multiscale character of evoked cortical activity. NeuroImage, 30(4), 1230-1242.