Somatosensory evoked potentials (SSEPs) have been established as an electrophysiological tool for the prognostication of neurological outcome in patients with hypoxic-ischemic brain injury. The early and late responses in SSEPs reflect the sequential activation of neural structures along the somatosensory pathway. This study reports that the SSEP can be separated into early (short-latency, SL) and late (long-latency, LL) responses using independent component analysis (ICA), based on the assumption that these components are generated from different neural sources. Moreover, this source separation into the SL and LL components allows analysis of electrophysiological response to brain injury, even when the SSEPs are severely distorted and SL and LL components get mixed. With the help of ICA decomposition and corrected peak estimation, the latency of LL-SSEP is shown to be predictive of long-term neurological outcome. Further, it is shown that the recovery processes of SL- and LL-SSEPs follow different dynamics, with the SL-SSEP restored earlier than LL-SSEP. We predict that the SL- and LL-SSEPs reflect the timing of the progression of evoked response through the thalamocortical pathway and as such respond differently depending upon injury and recovery of the thalamic and cortical regions, respectively.
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