Dissertations and Theses

Date of Award


Document Type



Biomedical Engineering

First Advisor

Lucas C. Parra


Biomedical Engineering, Neuroscience, Intracranial EEG, Functional Connectivity, Movies


Naturalistic stimuli, such as movies, contain interacting, multimodal and semantic features and allow for free exploration through eye movements. The full extent of neural responses to features such as motion, film cuts and eye movement behavior has not been established. The main hypothesis of this thesis is that complex multimodal and semantic stimuli in naturalistic movies engage a widespread ensemble of locations across the entire brain. To address this question I analyzed simultaneous intracranial and eyetracking data from over 6,000 electrodes across 23 patients with intractable epilepsy. Responses to fast eye movements – saccades – and film cuts are widespread across the entire brain, while responses to motion are restricted to visual brain areas. Higher-order brain areas respond differentially to semantic and low-level changes across film cuts and saccades. Movies have also recently been used in combination with resting state scans to investigate the utility of functional connectivity as a potential biomarker for psychiatric disorders. Functional connectivity in fMRI data measured during resting state and movie conditions is reliable, subject-specific and related to phenotype. However, it is unclear whether functional connectivity of EEG also possesses these qualities, which are required for the clinical use of neural biomarkers. I hypothesize that functional connectivity networks measured in EEG data recorded during movie watching are a predictor of psychiatric phenotypes similar to functional connectivity of fMRI. I demonstrate that functional connectivity of EEG is reliable, subject-specific and related to phenotypes. However, the patterns of functional connectivity differ in EEG and fMRI, suggesting the measures capture complementary information. In summary, these results demonstrate that the semantic content in movies allows one to study neural processing in naturalistic settings. In addition, EEG functional connectivity recorded during resting state and movie condition is reliabe, subject-specific and related to phenotype.



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