NeuroImage (Feb 2024)

Spatial-temporal convolutional attention for discovering and characterizing functional brain networks in task fMRI

  • Yiheng Liu,
  • Enjie Ge,
  • Zili Kang,
  • Ning Qiang,
  • Tianming Liu,
  • Bao Ge

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 287
p. 120519


Read online

Functional brain networks (FBNs) are spatial patterns of brain function that play a critical role in understanding human brain function. There are many proposed methods for mapping the spatial patterns of brain function, however they oversimplify the underlying assumptions of brain function and have various limitations such as linearity and independence. Additionally, current methods fail to account for the dynamic nature of FBNs, which limits their effectiveness in accurately characterizing these networks. To address these limitations, we present a novel deep learning and spatial-wise attention based model called Spatial-Temporal Convolutional Attention (STCA) to accurately model dynamic FBNs. Specifically, we train STCA in a self-supervised manner by utilizing a Convolutional Autoencoder to guide the STCA module in assigning higher attention weights to regions of functional activity. To validate the reliability of the results, we evaluate our approach on the HCP-task motor behavior dataset, the experimental results demonstrate that the STCA derived FBNs have higher spatial similarity with the templates and that the spatial similarity between the templates and the FBNs derived by STCA fluctuates with the task design over time, suggesting that STCA can reflect the dynamic changes of brain function, providing a powerful tool to better understand human brain function. Code is available at