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Selecting causal brain features with a single conditional independence test per feature
Atalanti Mastakouri · Bernhard Schölkopf · Dominik Janzing

Tue Dec 10 05:30 PM -- 07:30 PM (PST) @ East Exhibition Hall B + C #139

We propose a constraint-based causal feature selection method for identifying causes of a given target variable, selecting from a set of candidate variables, while there can also be hidden variables acting as common causes with the target. We prove that if we observe a cause for each candidate cause, then a single conditional independence test with one conditioning variable is sufficient to decide whether a candidate associated with the target is indeed causing it. We thus improve upon existing methods by significantly simplifying statistical testing and requiring a weaker version of causal faithfulness. Our main assumption is inspired by neuroscience paradigms where the activity of a single neuron is considered to be also caused by its own previous state. We demonstrate successful application of our method to simulated, as well as encephalographic data of twenty-one participants, recorded in Max Planck Institute for intelligent Systems. The detected causes of motor performance are in accordance with the latest consensus about the neurophysiological pathways, and can provide new insights into personalised brain stimulation.

Author Information

Atalanti Mastakouri (Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems)
Bernhard Schölkopf (MPI for Intelligent Systems)

Bernhard Scholkopf received degrees in mathematics (London) and physics (Tubingen), and a doctorate in computer science from the Technical University Berlin. He has researched at AT&T Bell Labs, at GMD FIRST, Berlin, at the Australian National University, Canberra, and at Microsoft Research Cambridge (UK). In 2001, he was appointed scientific member of the Max Planck Society and director at the MPI for Biological Cybernetics; in 2010 he founded the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems. For further information, see www.kyb.tuebingen.mpg.de/~bs.

Dominik Janzing (Amazon)

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