Brain, Biology and Behavior, Center for


Date of this Version


Document Type



Front. Neurorobot. 13:24.


Copyright © 2019 Ji, Chen, Petro, Yuan, Zheng and Keil.

Open access

doi: 10.3389/fnbot.2019.00024


Neurorobotics is one of the most ambitious fields in robotics, driving integration of interdisciplinary data and knowledge. One of the most productive areas of interdisciplinary research in this area has been the implementation of biologically-inspired mechanisms in the development of autonomous systems. Specifically, enabling such systems to display adaptive behavior such as learning from good and bad outcomes, has been achieved by quantifying and understanding the neural mechanisms of the brain networks mediating adaptive behaviors in humans and animals. For example, associative learning from aversive or dangerous outcomes is crucial for an autonomous system, to avoid dangerous situations in the future. A body of neuroscience research has suggested that the neurocomputations in the human brain during associative learning involve re-shaping of sensory responses. The nature of these adaptive changes in sensory processing during learning however are not yet well enough understood to be readily implemented into on-board algorithms for robotics application. Toward this overall goal, we record the simultaneous electroencephalogram (EEG) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), characterizing one candidate mechanism, i.e., large-scale brain oscillations. The present report examines the use of Functional Source Separation (FSS) as an optimization step in EEG-fMRI fusion that harnesses timing information to constrain the solutions that satisfy physiological assumptions. We applied this approach to the voxel-wise correlation of steady-state visual evoked potential (ssVEP) amplitude and blood oxygen level-dependent imaging (BOLD), across both time series. The results showed the benefit of FSS for the extraction of robust ssVEP signals during simultaneous EEG-fMRI recordings. Applied to data from a 3-phase aversive conditioning paradigm, the correlation maps across the three phases (habituation, acquisition, extinction) show converging results, notably major overlapping areas in both primary and extended visual cortical regions, including calcarine sulcus, lingual cortex, and cuneus. In addition, during the acquisition phase when aversive learning occurs, we observed additional correlations between ssVEP and BOLD in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) as well as the precuneus and superior temporal gyrus.