Multivariate regression is increasingly used to study the relation between fMRI spatial activation patterns and experimental stimuli or behavioral ratings. With linear models, informative brain locations are identified by mapping the model coefficients. This is a central aspect in neuroimaging, as it provides the sought-after link between the activity of neuronal populations and subject's perception, cognition or behavior. Here, we show that mapping of informative brain locations using multivariate linear regression (MLR) may lead to incorrect conclusions and interpretations. MLR algorithms for high dimensional data are designed to deal with targets (stimuli or behavioral ratings, in fMRI) separately, and the predictive map of a model integrates information deriving from both neural activity patterns and experimental design. Not accounting explicitly for the presence of other targets whose associated activity spatially overlaps with the one of interest may lead to predictive maps of troublesome interpretation. We propose a new model that can correctly identify the spatial patterns associated with a target while achieving good generalization. For each target, the training is based on an augmented dataset, which includes all remaining targets. The estimation on such datasets produces both maps and interaction coefficients, which are then used to generalize. The proposed formulation is independent of the regression algorithm employed. We validate this model on simulated fMRI data and on a publicly available dataset. Results indicate that our method achieves high spatial sensitivity and good generalization and that it helps disentangle specific neural effects from interaction with predictive maps associated with other targets. Hum Brain Mapp, 2013. (c) 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Valente, G., Castellanos, A. L., Vanacore, G., & Formisano, E. (2014). Multivariate linear regression of high-dimensional fMRI data with multiple target variables. Human Brain Mapping, 35(5), 2163-2177. https://doi.org/10.1002/hbm.22318