Detecting artifacts produced in EEG data by muscle activity, eye blinks and electrical noise is a common and important problem in EEG research. It is now widely accepted that independent component analysis (ICA) may be a useful tool for isolating artifacts and/or cortical processes from electroencephalographic (EEG) data. We present results of simulations demonstrating that ICA decomposition, here tested using three popular ICA algorithms, Infomax, SOBI, and FastICA, can allow more sensitive automated detection of small non-brain artifacts than applying the same detection methods directly to the scalp channel data. We tested the upper bound performance of five methods for detecting various types of artifacts by separately optimizing and then applying them to artifact-free EEG data into which we had added simulated artifacts of several types, ranging in size from thirty times smaller (-50 dB) to the size of the EEG data themselves (0 dB). Of the methods tested, those involving spectral thresholding were most sensitive. Except for muscle artifact detection where we found no gain of using ICA, all methods proved more sensitive when applied to the ICA-decomposed data than applied to the raw scalp data: the mean performance for ICA was higher and situated at about two standard deviations away from the performance distribution obtained on raw data. We note that ICA decomposition also allows simple subtraction of artifacts accounted for by single independent components, and/or separate and direct examination of the decomposed non-artifact processes themselves.