Decomposing EEG data into space-time-frequency components using Parallel Factor Analysis

Neuroimage. 2004 Jul;22(3):1035-45. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2004.03.039.


Finding the means to efficiently summarize electroencephalographic data has been a long-standing problem in electrophysiology. A popular approach is identification of component modes on the basis of the time-varying spectrum of multichannel EEG recordings--in other words, a space/frequency/time atomic decomposition of the time-varying EEG spectrum. Previous work has been limited to only two of these dimensions. Principal Component Analysis (PCA) and Independent Component Analysis (ICA) have been used to create space/time decompositions; suffering an inherent lack of uniqueness that is overcome only by imposing constraints of orthogonality or independence of atoms. Conventional frequency/time decompositions ignore the spatial aspects of the EEG. Framing of the data being as a three-way array indexed by channel, frequency, and time allows the application of a unique decomposition that is known as Parallel Factor Analysis (PARAFAC). Each atom is the tri-linear decomposition into a spatial, spectral, and temporal signature. We applied this decomposition to the EEG recordings of five subjects during the resting state and during mental arithmetic. Common to all subjects were two atoms with spectral signatures whose peaks were in the theta and alpha range. These signatures were modulated by physiological state, increasing during the resting stage for alpha and during mental arithmetic for theta. Furthermore, we describe a new method (Source Spectra Imaging or SSI) to estimate the location of electric current sources from the EEG spectrum. The topography of the theta atom is frontal and the maximum of the corresponding SSI solution is in the anterior frontal cortex. The topography of the alpha atom is occipital with maximum of the SSI solution in the visual cortex. We show that the proposed decomposition can be used to search for activity with a given spectral and topographic profile in new recordings, and that the method may be useful for artifact recognition and removal.

Publication types

  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Alpha Rhythm
  • Artifacts
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Electroencephalography*
  • Eye Movements / physiology
  • Factor Analysis, Statistical*
  • Humans
  • Mathematics
  • Mental Processes / physiology
  • Models, Neurological*
  • Principal Component Analysis*
  • Theta Rhythm
  • Time Factors