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Title: Novel topological and temporal network analyses for EEG functional connectivity with applications to Alzheimer's disease
Author: Smith, Keith Malcolm
ISNI:       0000 0004 7429 4021
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2018
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This doctoral thesis outlines several methodological advances in network science aimed towards uncovering rapid, complex interdependencies of electromagnetic brain activity recorded from the Electroencephalogram (EEG). This entails both new analyses and modelling of EEG brain network topologies and a novel approach to analyse rapid dynamics of connectivity. Importantly, we implement these advances to provide novel insights into pathological brain function in Alzheimer's disease. We introduce the concept of hierarchical complexity of network topology, providing both an index to measure it and a model to simulate it. We then show that the topology of functional connectivity estimated from EEG recordings is hierarchically complex, existing in a scale between random and star-like topologies, this is a paradigm shift from the established understanding that complexity arises between random and regular topologies. We go on to consider the density appropriate for binarisation of EEG functional connectivity, a methodological step recommended to produce compact and unbiased networks, in light of its new-found hierarchical complexity. Through simulations and real EEG data, we show the benefit of going beyond often recommended sparse representations to account for a broader range of hierarchy level interactions. After this, we turn our attention to assessing dynamic changes in connectivity. By constructing a unified framework for multivariate signals and graphs, inspired by network science and graph signal processing, we introduce graph-variate signal analysis which allows us to capture rapid fluctuations in connectivity robust to spurious short-term correlations. We define this for three pertinent brain connectivity estimates - Pearson's correlation coefficient, coherence and phase-lag index - and show its benefit over standard dynamic connectivity measures in a range of simulations and real data. Applying these novel methods to EEG datasets of the performance of visual short-term memory binding tasks by familial and sporadic Alzheimer's disease patients, we uncover disorganisation of the topological hierarchy of EEG brain function and abnormalities of transient phase-based activity which paves the way for new interpretations of the disease's affect on brain function. Hierarchical complexity and graph-variate dynamic connectivity are entirely new methods for analysing EEG brain networks. The former provides new interpretations of complexity in static connectivity patterns while the latter enables robust analysis of transient temporal connectivity patterns, both at the frontiers of analysis. Although designed with EEG functional connectivity in mind, we hope these techniques will be picked up in the broader field, having consequences for research into complex networks in general.
Supervisor: Escudero Rodriguez, Javier ; Starr, John ; Thompson, John Sponsor: Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: EEG ; hierarchical topology ; alzheimer's disease ; instantaneous signal dynamics ; long-term connectivity ; dynamic connectivity