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Published August 2020 | Supplemental Material + Accepted Version + Submitted
Journal Article Open

Causal Mapping of Emotion Networks in the Human Brain: Framework and Initial Findings


Emotions involve many cortical and subcortical regions, prominently including the amygdala. It remains unknown how these multiple network components interact, and it remains unknown how they cause the behavioral, autonomic, and experiential effects of emotions. Here we describe a framework for combining a novel technique, concurrent electrical stimulation with fMRI (es-fMRI), together with a novel analysis, inferring causal structure from fMRI data (causal discovery). We outline a research program for investigating human emotion with these new tools, and provide initial findings from two large resting-state datasets as well as case studies in neurosurgical patients with electrical stimulation of the amygdala. The overarching goal is to use causal discovery methods on fMRI data to infer causal graphical models of how brain regions interact, and then to further constrain these models with direct stimulation of specific brain regions and concurrent fMRI. We conclude by discussing limitations and future extensions. The approach could yield anatomical hypotheses about brain connectivity, motivate rational strategies for treating mood disorders with deep brain stimulation, and could be extended to animal studies that use combined optogenetic fMRI.

Additional Information

© 2017 Elsevier Ltd. Received 1 July 2017, Revised 9 November 2017, Accepted 11 November 2017, Available online 13 November 2017. Supported by NIMH grant 2P50MH094258, NINDS grant 1U01NS103780-01, and grant 542941 from the Simons Foundation Collaboration on the Global Brain to R.A.; and by NSF grant 1564330 to F.E. Data sharing: The HCP and MCP datasets are publicly available. All other data and analyses are available from the authors upon request. Author contributions: J. Dubois conducted most of the analyses and generated all data figures in the main text. H. Oya and M. Howard conducted the electrical stimulation-fMRI experiments, and H. Oya processed the resulting data and conducted GLM analyses. J.M. Tyszka provided help with analysis of fMRI data. F. Eberhardt conducted all causal discovery analyses. All authors discussed and planned the overall framework and analyses, and all authors jointly wrote the manuscript. The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Attached Files

Accepted Version - nihms927443.pdf

Submitted - 214486.full.pdf

Supplemental Material - mmc1.docx


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August 22, 2023
December 22, 2023