Delineating between-subject heterogeneity in alpha networks with Spatio-Spectral Eigenmodes

Andrew J. Quinn*, Gary G.R. Green, Mark Hymers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
39 Downloads (Pure)


Between subject variability in the spatial and spectral structure of oscillatory networks can be highly informative but poses a considerable analytic challenge. Here, we describe a data-driven modal decomposition of a multivariate autoregressive model that simultaneously identifies oscillations by their peak frequency, damping time and network structure. We use this decomposition to define a set of Spatio-Spectral Eigenmodes (SSEs) providing a parsimonious description of oscillatory networks. We show that the multivariate system transfer function can be rewritten in these modal coordinates, and that the full transfer function is a linear superposition of all modes in the decomposition. The modal transfer function is a linear summation and therefore allows for single oscillatory signals to be isolated and analysed in terms of their spectral content, spatial distribution and network structure. We validate the method on simulated data and explore the structure of whole brain oscillatory networks in eyes-open resting state MEG data from the Human Connectome Project. We are able to show a wide between participant variability in peak frequency and network structure of alpha oscillations and show a distinction between occipital ’high-frequency alpha’ and parietal ’low-frequency alpha’. The frequency difference between occipital and parietal alpha components is present within individual participants but is partially masked by larger between subject variability; a 10Hz oscillation may represent the high-frequency occipital component in one participant and the low-frequency parietal component in another. This rich characterisation of individual neural phenotypes has the potential to enhance analyses into the relationship between neural dynamics and a person's behavioural, cognitive or clinical state.

Original languageEnglish
Article number118330
Number of pages18
Early online date6 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank Sam Johnson and Catharina Zich. The HCP data were provided by the Human Connectome Project, WU-Minn Consortium (Principal Investigators: David Van Essen and Kamil Ugurbil; 1U54MH091657) funded by the 16 NIH Institutes and Centers that support the NIH Blueprint for Neuroscience Research; and by the McDonnell Center for Systems Neuroscience at Washington University.

This work was supported by an ESRC PhD Studentship from the White Rose Doctoral Training Centre. The Wellcome Centre for Integrative Neuroimaging is supported by core funding from the Wellcome Trust (203139/Z/16/Z). This work was also supported by the NIHR Oxford Health Biomedical Research Centre and the Medical Research Council grant (RG94383/RG89702).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021


  • Alpha oscillation
  • Autoregression
  • Eigenmodes
  • MEG
  • Network
  • Spectral decomposition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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