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Receptive Field Estimation and Prediction

This example reproduces figures from Lalor et al’s mTRF toolbox in matlab [1]. We will show how the mne.decoding.ReceptiveField class can perform a similar function along with scikit-learn. We will fit a linear encoding model using the continuously-varying speech envelope to predict activity of a 128 channel EEG system.


[1](1, 2, 3) Crosse, M. J., Di Liberto, G. M., Bednar, A. & Lalor, E. C. (2016). The Multivariate Temporal Response Function (mTRF) Toolbox: A MATLAB Toolbox for Relating Neural Signals to Continuous Stimuli. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 10, 604. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2016.00604
# Authors: Chris Holdgraf <>
# License: BSD (3-clause)
# sphinx_gallery_thumbnail_number = 3

import numpy as np
import matplotlib.pyplot as plt
from import loadmat
from os.path import join

import mne
from mne.decoding import ReceptiveField
from sklearn.model_selection import KFold
from sklearn.preprocessing import scale

Load the data from the publication

First we will load the data collected in [1]. In this experiment subjects listened to natural speech. Raw EEG and the speech stimulus was collected. We will load these below, downsampling the data in order to speed up computation since we know that our features are primarily low-frequency in nature. Then we’ll visualize both the EEG and speech envelope.

path = mne.datasets.mtrf.data_path()
decim = 2
data = loadmat(join(path, 'speech_data.mat'))
raw = data['EEG'].T
speech = data['envelope'].T
sfreq = float(data['Fs'])
sfreq /= decim
speech = mne.filter.resample(speech, down=decim, npad='auto')
raw = mne.filter.resample(raw, down=decim, npad='auto')

# Read in channel positions and create our MNE objects from the raw data
montage = mne.channels.read_montage('biosemi128')
montage.selection = montage.selection[:128]
info = mne.create_info(montage.ch_names[:128], sfreq, 'eeg', montage=montage)
raw =, info)
n_channels = len(raw.ch_names)

# Plot a sample of brain and stimulus activity
fig, ax = plt.subplots()
lns = ax.plot(scale(raw[:, :800][0].T), color='k', alpha=.1)
ln1 = ax.plot(scale(speech[0, :800]), color='r', lw=2)
ax.legend([lns[0], ln1[0]], ['EEG', 'Speech Envelope'], frameon=False)
ax.set(title="Sample activity", xlabel="Time (s)")

Create and fit a receptive field model

We will construct a model to find the linear relationship between the EEG signal and a time-delayed version of the speech envelope. This allows us to make predictions about the response to new stimuli.

# Define the delays that we will use in the receptive field
tmin, tmax = -.4, .2

# Initialize the model
rf = ReceptiveField(tmin, tmax, sfreq, feature_names=['envelope'],
                    estimator=1., scoring='corrcoef')
# We'll have (tmax - tmin) * sfreq delays
# and an extra 2 delays since we are inclusive on the beginning / end index
n_delays = int((tmax - tmin) * sfreq) + 2

n_splits = 3
cv = KFold(n_splits)

# Prepare model data (make time the first dimension)
speech = speech.T
Y, _ = raw[:]  # Outputs for the model
Y = Y.T

# Iterate through splits, fit the model, and predict/test on held-out data
coefs = np.zeros((n_splits, n_channels, n_delays))
scores = np.zeros((n_splits, n_channels))
for ii, (train, test) in enumerate(cv.split(speech)):
    print('split %s / %s' % (ii, n_splits))[train], Y[train])
    scores[ii] = rf.score(speech[test], Y[test])
    # coef_ is shape (n_outputs, n_features, n_delays). we only have 1 feature
    coefs[ii] = rf.coef_[:, 0, :]
times = rf.delays_ / float(rf.sfreq)

# Average scores and coefficients across CV splits
mean_coefs = coefs.mean(axis=0)
mean_scores = scores.mean(axis=0)

# Plot mean prediction scores across all channels
fig, ax = plt.subplots()
ix_chs = np.arange(n_channels)
ax.plot(ix_chs, mean_scores)
ax.axhline(0, ls='--', color='r')
ax.set(title="Mean prediction score", xlabel="Channel", ylabel="Score ($r$)")

Investigate model coefficients

Finally, we will look at how the linear coefficients (sometimes referred to as beta values) are distributed across time delays as well as across the scalp. We will recreate figure 1 and figure 2 from [1].

# Print mean coefficients across all time delays / channels (see Fig 1 in [1])
time_plot = -.180  # For highlighting a specific time.
fig, ax = plt.subplots(figsize=(4, 8))
max_coef = mean_coefs.max()
ax.pcolormesh(times, ix_chs, mean_coefs, cmap='RdBu_r',
              vmin=-max_coef, vmax=max_coef)
ax.axvline(time_plot, ls='--', color='k', lw=2)
ax.set(xlabel='Delay (s)', ylabel='Channel', title="Mean Model\nCoefficients",
       xlim=times[[0, -1]], ylim=[len(ix_chs) - 1, 0],
       xticks=np.arange(tmin, tmax + .2, .2))
plt.setp(ax.get_xticklabels(), rotation=45)

# Make a topographic map of coefficients for a given delay (see Fig 2C in [1])
ix_plot = np.argmin(np.abs(time_plot - times))
fig, ax = plt.subplots()
mne.viz.plot_topomap(mean_coefs[:, ix_plot], pos=info, axes=ax, show=False,
                     vmin=-max_coef, vmax=max_coef)
ax.set(title="Topomap of model coefficients\nfor delay %s" % time_plot)

Total running time of the script: ( 0 minutes 0.000 seconds)

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