Finding tau rhythms in EEG: An independent component analysis approach

Hum Brain Mapp. 2024 Feb 1;45(2):e26572. doi: 10.1002/hbm.26572.


Tau rhythms are largely defined by sound responsive alpha band (~8-13 Hz) oscillations generated largely within auditory areas of the superior temporal gyri. Studies of tau have mostly employed magnetoencephalography or intracranial recording because of tau's elusiveness in the electroencephalogram. Here, we demonstrate that independent component analysis (ICA) decomposition can be an effective way to identify tau sources and study tau source activities in EEG recordings. Subjects (N = 18) were passively exposed to complex acoustic stimuli while the EEG was recorded from 68 electrodes across the scalp. Subjects' data were split into 60 parallel processing pipelines entailing use of five levels of high-pass filtering (passbands of 0.1, 0.5, 1, 2, and 4 Hz), three levels of low-pass filtering (25, 50, and 100 Hz), and four different ICA algorithms (fastICA, infomax, adaptive mixture ICA [AMICA], and multi-model AMICA [mAMICA]). Tau-related independent component (IC) processes were identified from this data as being localized near the superior temporal gyri with a spectral peak in the 8-13 Hz alpha band. These "tau ICs" showed alpha suppression during sound presentations that was not seen for other commonly observed IC clusters with spectral peaks in the alpha range (e.g., those associated with somatomotor mu, and parietal or occipital alpha). The choice of analysis parameters impacted the likelihood of obtaining tau ICs from an ICA decomposition. Lower cutoff frequencies for high-pass filtering resulted in significantly fewer subjects showing a tau IC than more aggressive high-pass filtering. Decomposition using the fastICA algorithm performed the poorest in this regard, while mAMICA performed best. The best combination of filters and ICA model choice was able to identify at least one tau IC in the data of ~94% of the sample. Altogether, the data reveal close similarities between tau EEG IC dynamics and tau dynamics observed in MEG and intracranial data. Use of relatively aggressive high-pass filters and mAMICA decomposition should allow researchers to identify and characterize tau rhythms in a majority of their subjects. We believe adopting the ICA decomposition approach to EEG analysis can increase the rate and range of discoveries related to auditory responsive tau rhythms.

Keywords: auditory alpha; auditory perception; event-related desynchronization; source localization; time-frequency.

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Auditory Cortex* / physiology
  • Brain Waves*
  • Humans
  • Magnetoencephalography