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Critical comments on EEG sensor space dynamical connectivity analysis

Created on 13th July 2016

Frederik Van De Steen ; Luca Faes; Esin Karahan ; Jitkomut Songsiri ; Pedro Antonio Valdes Sosa ; Daniele Marinazzo

The use of electroencephalography (EEG) to study brain functioning and dynamics in humans has known a long history. Over the years, different analysis techniques have been developed and applied to EEG recordings that allow one to investigate how different brain areas interact. One particular class of methods, based on the linear parametric representation of multiple interacting time series, is widely used to study causal connectivity in the brain in both fundamental and clinical neuroscientific research. However, the results obtained by these methods should be interpreted with great care. The goal of this paper is to show, both theoretically and using simulations, that results obtained by applying causal connectivity measures on the sensor (scalp) time series do not allow interpretation in terms of interacting brain sources. Although many measures of causal connectivity derived from EEG sensor time series are affected by this, here we will focus on the well-known time domain index of Granger causality (GC) and on the frequency domain directed transfer function (DTF). Using the state-space framework and designing two different simulation studies we show that mixing effects caused by volume conduction can lead to spurious connections, detected either by time domain GC or by DTF, when interpreted in terms of anatomically interacting sources. Therefore, GC/DTF causal connectivity measures should be computed at the source level, or derived within analysis frameworks that model the effects of volume conduction. Subjects: Neurons and Cognition (q-bio.NC); Applications (stat.AP) Cite as: arXiv:1607.03687 [q-bio.NC]   (or arXiv:1607.03687v1 [q-bio.NC] for this version)

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