A nonlinear causality estimator based on non-parametric multiplicative regression

Nicoletta Nicolaou, Timothy G. Constandinou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Causal prediction has become a popular tool for neuroscience applications, as it allows the study of relationships between different brain areas during rest, cognitive tasks or brain disorders. We propose a nonparametric approach for the estimation of nonlinear causal prediction for multivariate time series. In the proposed estimator, CNPMR, Autoregressive modeling is replaced by Nonparametric Multiplicative Regression (NPMR). NPMR quantifies interactions between a response variable (effect) and a set of predictor variables (cause); here, we modified NPMR for model prediction. We also demonstrate how a particular measure, the sensitivity Q, could be used to reveal the structure of the underlying causal relationships. We apply CNPMR on artificial data with known ground truth (5 datasets), as well as physiological data (2 datasets).CNPMR correctly identifies both linear and nonlinear causal connections that are present in the artificial data, as well as physiologically relevant connectivity in the real data, and does not seem to be affected by filtering. The Sensitivity measure also provides useful information about the latent connectivity.The proposed estimator addresses many of the limitations of linear Granger causality and other nonlinear causality estimators. CNPMRis compared with pairwise and conditional Granger causality (linear) and Kernel-Granger causality (nonlinear). The proposed estimator can be applied to pairwise or multivariate estimations without any modifications to the main method. Its nonpametric nature, its ability to capture nonlinear relationships and its robustness to filtering make it appealing for a number of applications.

Original languageEnglish
Article number19
JournalFrontiers in Neuroinformatics
Issue numberJUNE
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jun 2016


  • Conditional causality
  • Multivariate causality
  • Nonlinear causality
  • Nonparametric causality
  • Nonparametric multiplicative regression


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