One of the challenges of naturalistic neurosciences using movie-viewing experiments is how to interpret observed brain activations in relation to the multiplicity of time-locked stimulus features. As previous studies have shown less inter-subject synchronization across viewers of random video footage than story-driven films, new methods need to be developed for analysis of less story-driven contents. To optimize the linkage between our fMRI data collected during viewing of a deliberately non-narrative silent film ‘At Land’ by Maya Deren (1944) and its annotated content, we combined the method of elastic-net regularization with the model-driven linear regression and the well-established data-driven independent component analysis (ICA) and inter-subject correlation (ISC) methods. In the linear regression analysis, both IC and region-of-interest (ROI) time-series were fitted with time-series of a total of 36 binary-valued and one real-valued tactile annotation of film features. The elastic-net regularization and cross-validation were applied in the ordinary least-squares linear regression in order to avoid over-fitting due to the multicollinearity of regressors, the results were compared against both the partial least-squares (PLS) regression and the un-regularized full-model regression. Non-parametric permutation testing scheme was applied to evaluate the statistical significance of regression. We found statistically significant correlation between the annotation model and 9 ICs out of 40 ICs. Regression analysis was also repeated for a large set of cubic ROIs covering the grey matter. Both IC- and ROI-based regression analyses revealed activations in parietal and occipital regions, with additional smaller clusters in the frontal lobe. Furthermore, we found elastic-net based regression more sensitive than PLS and un-regularized regression since it detected a larger number of significant ICs and ROIs. Along with the ISC ranking methods, our regression analysis proved a feasible method for ordering the ICs based on their functional relevance to the annotated cinematic features. The novelty of our method is – in comparison to the hypothesis-driven manual pre-selection and observation of some individual regressors biased by choice – in applying data-driven approach to all content features simultaneously. We found especially the combination of regularized regression and ICA useful when analyzing fMRI data obtained using non-narrative movie stimulus with a large set of complex and correlated features.
- Elastic-net regularization
- Linear regression
- Independent component analysis
- Naturalistic stimuli