Effects of forward model errors on EEG source localization

Brain Topogr. 2013 Jul;26(3):378-96. doi: 10.1007/s10548-012-0274-6. Epub 2013 Jan 26.


Subject-specific four-layer boundary element method (BEM) electrical forward head models for four participants, generated from magnetic resonance (MR) head images using NFT ( www.sccn.ucsd.edu/wiki/NFT ), were used to simulate electroencephalographic (EEG) scalp potentials at 256 recorded electrode positions produced by single current dipoles of a 3-D grid in brain space. Locations of these dipoles were then estimated using gradient descent within five template head models fit to the electrode positions. These were: a spherical model, three-layer and four-layer BEM head models based on the Montreal Neurological Institute (MNI) template head image, and these BEM models warped to the recorded electrode positions. Smallest localization errors (4.1-6.2 mm, medians) were obtained using the electrode-position warped four-layer BEM models, with largest localization errors (~20 mm) for most basal brain locations. When we increased the brain-to-skull conductivity ratio assumed in the template model scalp projections from the simulated value (25:1) to a higher value (80:1) used in earlier studies, the estimated dipole locations moved outwards (12.4 mm, median). We also investigated the effects of errors in co-registering the electrode positions, of reducing electrode counts, and of adding a fifth, isotropic white matter layer to one individual head model. Results show that when individual subject MR head images are not available to construct subject-specific head models, accurate EEG source localization should employ a four- or five-layer BEM template head model incorporating an accurate skull conductivity estimate and warped to 64 or more accurately 3-D measured and co-registered electrode positions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anisotropy
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Brain Waves / physiology*
  • Computer Simulation
  • Head / physiology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Models, Neurological*