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Analysis on Subtracting Projection of Extracted Independent

Components from EEG Recordings

Fengyu Cong, Igor Kalyakin, Zheng Chang, Tapani Ristaniemi

Jyväskylä, Finland

Address: Department of Mathematical Information Technology, POBox 35 (Agora),

University of Jyväskylä, 40014, Jyväskylä, Finland

Tel.: +358-14-2603098

Fax: +358-14-2604981

Email: fengyu.cong@jyu.fi , fengyucong@gmail.com

1

Abstract

Event-related potentials (ERPs) of electroencephalography (EEG) recordings can be

assumed as mixtures of sources of electrical brain activities. To reject artifact sources, the

projection of the estimated counterpart by independent component analysis (ICA) is often

subtracted from EEG recordings. However, the association of performance of ICA

decomposition and the subtraction has never been analyzed before. Coincidently, we find

that a source can be completely removed from EEG recordings through the subtraction

theoretically. The necessary condition of such results is that the estimated ICA model for

every source should be entirely correct, i.e., each estimated source is just the scaled

version of one source. Meanwhile, we also find that the subtraction can not sufficiently

reject one source practically. This is because the estimated ICA model for some sources

is inevitably incorrect, i.e., some estimated sources are still the mixture of a few sources.

To improve the accuracy of the subtraction, the first is to develop better ICA algorithms

to separate mixtures as sufficiently as possible, and the second is to modify the abnormal

polarity of the projection of the estimated source in the electrode field. Numerical

simulations validate the effectiveness of the modification on the abnormal polarity in

rejecting one source.

2

1. Introduction

Independent component analysis (ICA) has been used in various disciplines, such as

time-series analysis, speech separation, image processing, and telecommunication

research, biomedical data processing and so on [1] (Part IV). Most of applications of ICA

contain two steps: 1) estimating independent components (ICs) from the multichannel

mixtures; 2) choosing the desired component for further analysis. Although an extracted

IC has the variance ambiguity [1] (chapter 7), it would not prevent the application of ICA

in many fields. For example, in the speech separation, the interest of research is usually to

analyze the structure of the waveform [2]. However, to the study of biomedical signals

when using ICA, especially, to the event-related potentials (ERPs), after ICA

decomposition, the variance ambiguity of the interesting IC is often corrected [3-6]. This

is because the peak amplitude is an important characteristic to an ERP of

electroencephalography (EEG) recordings and most ERP studies concentrate on

analyzing amplitudes of ERPs [7] (chapter 6). For example, the amplitude of an ERP can

be the feature to discriminate the normal children and children with disorders [8,9]. Thus,

it is often expected that the amplitudes of ERPs should be available and determinate after

the data processing method is implemented. Otherwise, the conventional analysis on the

peak amplitudes of ERPs would not be facilitated, and the significance and contribution

of the data processing might be weakened.

Consequently, to study ERPs when using ICA, a third step tends to follow the

ICA decomposition. It is to project the selected ICs back to the electrode field for

correcting the variance ambiguity of those ICs [5,6,10]. Usually, the number of the

selected ICs is much smaller than that of all extracted ICs, and goals to process the back-

projection of the selected ICs in the electrode field can be divided into three categories.

The first is to analyze the projection of selected ICs further. Indeed, the selected ICs

should reveal brain activities of ERPs, and the other unselected ICs are simultaneously

rejected during the projection [3-6,10-12]. The second is to subtract the projection of

selected ICs from EEG recordings. The selected ICs should correspond to artifacts, and

the goal is to reject artifacts and denoise the recordings [6,12,13]. For example, the eye

blinks can be removed with ICA related procedure [13]. The third is to examine the brain

3

activities out of the major task in the electrode field during the elicitation of an ERP. This

can be the interest of some studies [3,4]. There are two possible paradigms to achieve the

third goal: 1) subtracting the projection of ICs which reflect the major task, 2) projecting

ICs which reveal the brain activities out of the major task. The former paradigm is more

efficient than the latter paradigm because few extracted ICs may usually correspond to

the major task during an ERP experiment [3,4,12].

Indeed, to subtract the projection of the extracted IC corresponding to the artifact

can function as the denoising. This is one of the fundamental tasks in the study of

biomedical signals. The most straight-forward way is to reject the trial with the

recordings exceeding a certain threshold of the amplitude [8]. This method is extensively

used in the offline study of ERPs when the number of collected single trials is enough.

However, it is desired to make use of the collected trials as possible as it can be,

especially in the real-time brain computer interface [14-16]. Thus, to achieve the

denoised biomedical signals, the digital filter [17], the wavelet based procedure [18,19],

empirical mode decomposition [20,21], and artificial neural network [22] are often used.

These methods exploit the temporal, spectral, and time-frequency information of the

single-channel biomedical signal, and have been proved to be very useful. Actually, it is

still very challenging to denoise the biomedical signals and it will be beneficial to study

more denoising methods from more perspectives of the information of signals. ICA is a

relatively new multichannel signal processing method, and can exploit the spatial

independence among sources. Through subtracting the projection of the extracted IC of

the artifact from EEG recordings, ICA has been proven to be very effective in artifact

rejections as long as the sources are independent or sparse [12,13,23]. Unfortunately, the

association between the subtraction and the performance of ICA decomposition has never

been analyzed before.

In our previous report, we have analyzed the projection of the desired component

through the mathematical deduction with the scalar form, and our conclusion is that the

back-projection might not fully correct the variance ambiguity of an IC in the electrode

field when the ICA model is not well estimated [10]. This study is devoted to analyzing

the subtraction of the projection through the mathematical deduction with the form of the

vector and matrix. What will be kept in the EEG recordings after any component is

4

rejected by the subtraction? How to improve the accuracy of the subtraction? This study

will answer the two questions.

Indeed, the artifact rejection through ICA has been extensively used in different

software, including Brain Vision Analyzer software (Brain Products GmbH, Munich,

Germany), EEGLAB, and so on. When the artifacts such as eye blinks and

electromyography are very evident in the EEG recordings, the ICA based subtraction

procedure may often remove them correctly. This is because the ratio of variances of

huge artifacts to the variance of an ERP is very high, and ICA can extract the artifact

component precisely in practice [11]. Furthermore, such ratio can even be up to hundreds

in contrast to many ERPs. However, in EEG recordings, there are possibly smaller

artifacts with the variances at the level of an ERP, or the percentage of the contribution of

the extracted artifact component to the EEG recordings is not as high as that of the huge

eye blinks. It should be noted that even though some artifacts are smaller, they may still

be larger than or comparable to some ERPs. Hence, it is necessary to reject them. In this

study, after the discussion on the relationship between the subtraction and the ICA

decomposition, we will take examples of rejecting smaller artifacts by subtraction in the

simulation where the variance of the artifact is ten times and equal to that of the desired

ERP, respectively.

This presentation is organized as follows: the section two analyzes the subtraction

of the projection of one IC from EEG recordings; the section three is about the

subtraction of several ICs; the section four simulates the rejection of one IC; at last, the

conclusion and discussion are presented in the fifth section.

At EEG frequencies, we assume that different sources of electrical brain activities start

transferring from their locations in the brain to any point of the scalp simultaneously, and

assume that the conduction times of different sources are equal, and assume that EEG

recordings at any point on the scalp are the summation of the linear transformed sources

[24][25]. Thus, the linear transform model of latent variables fits the EEG recordings [5].

When the number of sources is larger than that of sensors, the model is undetermined;

when the number of sources and that of sensors are equal, the model is determined; and

5

when the number of sources is smaller than that of sensors, the model is overdetermined

[26](chapter 2).

Indeed, EEG recordings are often interpreted as the discrete source model [27]

(see more introductions via http://besa.de/tutorials/hands_on/). The model supposes that

each equivalent current dipole source represents an extended brain region, and the

number of sources may be smaller than the number of electrodes in the high-density array.

This study is actually focused on the ERP research. As ERPs are elicited by the external

stimulus, except huge artifacts, the relatively large activities in the averaged EEG

recordings over a number of single trials usually represent the phenomena of interest

related to the stimulus. The number of such visible components is practically limited.

Moreover, ICA can ‘pay more attention’ to the relatively large activities, and the smaller

ones may not be separated [11]. Therefore, it is reasonable to admit the discrete source

model and to assume that the number of sources is equal or smaller to the number of

sensors in the high-density array. Hence, this section first takes the determined model as

the example for the analysis, and at the end of this section, the overdetermined model is

investigated.

If sensor noises are omitted, EEG data may be modeled as

M

x t a s t As t ,

j 1

j j

(1)

T T

the independent sources of brain activities, and A is the mixing matrix and it is also

named as the mapping matrix in this study. a j is the j th column of mapping matrix A

and it contains the mapping coefficients from the j th source to all available electrodes,

and the coefficients compose the linear transformation model between the source and the

scalp. The classic ICA is based on the Eq.(1).

To Eq. (1), the variance of an IC is indeterminate. This is because both the mixing

matrix and sources are unknown, and is because any scalar multiplied to one of the

sources can definitely be removed through dividing the corresponding column of mixing

6

matrix by the same scalar [1] (chapter 7). For example, the Eq. (1) can be written by the

following expression,

M

1

x t a j j s j t As t , (1-a)

j 1

j

where, j denotes a scalar. The Eq. (1-a) also implies that the sign or the polarity of the

IC is indeterminate either [1] (chapter 7), and this is because we can multiply an IC by -1,

meanwhile, the ICA model is not affected.

ICA is to seek an unmixing matrix W . With this matrix, mixtures are linearly

transformed into ICs as the following,

y t Wxt , (2)

y t y1 t ,, y N t

T

where, is the estimation of independent sources in Eq. (1), and their

components at a given time. Usually, all the samples of all estimated components are

defined as the component activation matrix [5].

In the EEG study, y t represents the time courses of relative strengths or activity

levels of the respective ICs [5]. The problem is that the variance of any element of y t is

indeterminate [1](chapter 7). Coincidently, the columns of the inverse of the unmixing

matrix W may provide the relative projection strengths of the respective components

onto each of the scalp sensors in EEG problem, and these may be interpolated to show

the scalp map associated with each component [5]. Thus, the projection matrix B is the

inverse of W , and can be simply implemented as

B W 1 . (3)

The projection of the k th estimated component back onto the original electrode

field is realized by the outer product of the k th row of the component activation matrix

with the k th column of the inverse unmixing matrix, and the projection is in the original

units (e.g., microvolts) [5]. Such procedure can be described as

e k t b k yk t , (4)

7

To reject that component, its projection may be subtracted from the EEG

recordings [6,13] and the procedure can be illustrated below

z t x t ek t . (5)

After some ICs are rejected, the left of the recordings are denoted by z t in this study.

their association, we borrow the concept of global matrix of ICA [26] (chapters 4&11)

hereinafter.

The global matrix of ICA is defined as,

C WA . (6)

After the Eqs. (1) and (6) are substituted into the Eq. (2), the estimated ICs can be

y t Cs t . (7)

yk t C k ,: s t , (8)

where, C k ,: simpolizes the k th row of C and it contains the separation coefficients to all

sources. Based on the Eqs. (3) and (6), the projection matrix can be derived as

B AC1 AQ , (9)

where, Q C1 C C , C is the determinant of C , and C is the adjugate matrix of C . So,

the column of projection matrix B is the multiplication between mapping matrix A and

the corresponding column of C1 . For example, the k th column of B could be

b k Aq k , (10)

where, q k denotes the k th column of C1 , and the i th element of the q k is as

1

ik

M ki

qik , (11)

C

After the Eqs. (8) and (10) are substituted into the Eq. (4), the projection could be

ek t Aq k C k ,: s t AGs t , (12)

G q k C k ,: , (13)

8

1

ik

M ki

gij ckj , (14)

C

where, the matrix G is denoted as the source identification matrix, gij is the i, j th element

of G and ckj is the k , j th element of C , j 1, , N . With the Eqs. (1) and (12) substituted

into the Eq. (5), subtracting the projection of one IC could be interpreted as

z t As t AGs t A I G s t , (15)

where, I is the identity matrix and the source identification matrix G can identify which

source corresponds to the selected component for the projection and subtraction.

Moreover, G is the outer product of the k th column of the inverse of the global

matrix and the k th row of the global matrix. Hence, the Eqs.(2) and (15) actually indicate

that the global matrix determines the projection and subtraction. Briefly to say, there are

two different categories of global matrices, and they are illustrated in the next subsection.

To ICA decomposition, we can derive from the Eqs. (7) and (8) that an IC can only

correspond to just one source provided that there is only one nonzero element in each row

and each column of the global matrix C . In this case, an IC is just the scaled version of a

source and such ICA decomposition can provide the entirely correct ICA model.

However, if the global matrix C does not conform to the conditions mentioned

above, what we can derive from the Eqs. (7) and (8) is that an IC may be still the mixture

of some sources. This is because the EEG recordings are not sufficiently separated by

ICA. Such ICA decomposition can only supply partially correct ICA model.

Under the entirely correct ICA model, the global matrix can be factorized into the

multiplication of one permutation matrix P and one diagonal matrix D as below,

C PD . (16)

And then, the inverse of the global matrix can be

C1 D1 P 1 D1 P T , (17)

9

where, denotes the transpose operation. Based on the Eqs. (16) and (17), the row of

T

global matrix and the column of the inverse of the global matrix can be interpreted by the

permutation matrix and diagonal matrix as below,

C k ,:

P k ,: D , (18)

q k D1 P k ,:

T

, (19)

permutation matrix is equal to the transpose of the permutation matrix, 2) the row of

permutation matrix is the same to the corresponding column of the transpose of the

permutation matrix, 3) the inverse of the diagonal matrix is still diagonal.

After the Eqs. (18) and (19) are substituted into the Eq. (13), the identification

matrix G becomes

0 0

0 0

G D P k ,: P k ,: D g m ,m ,

T

1

(20)

0 0

0 0

g m ,m 1 , (21)

g d ,d 0 , gi , j 0, i j , (22)

where, g m ,m is the mth diagonal element of G , other elements of G are all zero, m is the

result, the source identification matrix G identifies that the mth source indeed corresponds

to the component in the projection in the Eq. (12) and the subtraction in the Eq. (15).

With the Eq. (20) substituted into the Eqs. (12) and (15), the projection and

subtraction of the k th IC are as

e k t a m sm t x m t . (23)

N N

v t x

j 1

j

xm

j 1, j m

xj . (24)

The Eq. (24) interprets that one component can be entirely removed from the EEG

recordings when the ICA decomposition provides the entirely correct ICA model. Indeed,

after subtracting the projection of the k th IC, the information of the corresponding source

10

is entirely rejected from the EEG recordings too. The index k for the IC and the index

m for the source are associated by the permutation matrix in the Eq. (16). v t in the

Eq.(24) is utilized for the presentation of the subtraction under the entirely correct ICA

model instead of z t in the Eq.(15).

Under the partially correct ICA model, the global matrix can not be factorized into the

multiplication of one permutation matrix and one diagonal matrix. Thus, the Eqs. (16)-

(24) become inequations, and the asscociation between the source identification matrix

G and global matrix C can be illustrated by the Eq. (13). In this case, the Eqs. (12) and

(15) are the expressions of the projection and subtraction.

Moreover, through the Eq. (14) under the partially correct ICA model, we can tell

that not all elements obey the Eqs. (21) and (22). This means that the source

identification matrix G may have more nonzero elements. Hence, the projection of the

selected IC in the Eq. (12) may include the information of some other sources, and some

other ICs may also contain the information of this selected IC. Then, the IC cannot be

fully rejected from the EEG recordings and meanwhile, the subtraction in the Eq.(15)

removes parts of other ICs too. Furthermore, the supposed useful information kept in the

EEG recordings may probably be contaminated either.

When ICA decomposition supplies partially correct ICA model, there are at least two

methods to improve the accuracy of the subtraction of the projection of an IC from EEG

recordings.

The Eq. (15) interprets that the accuracy of the subtraction is actually determined by the

source identification matrix G . When there is only one diagonal element of G with the

amplitude approaching to ‘1’ and the amplitudes of all other elements are nearly zero, the

subtraction of the projection of ICs can be satisfactory in practice. Regarding the

association of the source identification matrix G and the global matrix C , such conditions

11

of G as mentioned above indicate that the global matrix C should have one element with

relatively larger magnitude than that of any other element in each row and each column.

According to the Eqs. (7) and (8), such global matrix can contribute that the major

composition of an IC should be the scaled version of one source. Indeed, such ICA

decomposition is practically satisfactory. Therefore, the first method to improve the

accuracy of the subtraction is to develop better ICA algorithms to separate the mixtures

as sufficiently as possible.

subtraction

According to the Eq. (5), two items compose the results of the subtraction of one IC. One

is the EEG recording, and the other is the projection of that IC. Hence, to improve the

accuracy of the subtraction is equivalent to improve the accuracy of the projection. The

projection is to correct the variance and polarity ambiguity of an IC. However, under the

partially correct ICA model, the polarity ambiguity can not be sufficiently modified [10].

Thus, except better performance of ICA decomposition, if the further modification on the

projected component in the electrode field was possible, the accuracy of the projection

would also be improved, and then, the subtraction of the corrected projection could be

more accurate too.

To the entirely correct ICA model, the global matrix has only one nonzero

element in each row and each column, and the projection and subtraction of ICs are

determined by the corresponding mapping coefficients and the sources as illustrated by

the Eqs. (23) and (24). If ICA decomposition is run many times and it provides the

entirely correct ICA model each time, the separation matrices can be different in different

runs because of the variance and permutation indeterminacy of ICA. Thus, many global

matrices can correspond to the entirely correct ICA model. However, as shown by the

Eqs. (20), (23) and (24), the projection and subtraction of the IC of the identical source

keep invariant under those different global matrices.

Correspondingly, to ICA decomposition under the partially correct ICA model,

there may be also a lot of different global matrices too. Correspondingly, there will be

many different source identification matrices, and then there will be different kinds of

12

projection and subtraction as illustrated by the Eqs. (12) and (15). Subsequently, the

magnitude of the projected component at one electrode may have different results.

Because the true magnitude of an ERP is always unknown, it is impossible to modify the

magnitude of the projected component in the electrode field anymore. However,

regarding the polarity of a peak of an ERP, it is a different issue. This is because the

polarity of the peak only possesses two possibilities. One is positive and the other is

negative. If the polarity of an ERP is prior knowledge in the electrode field, it should be

determined under a certain reference. For example, the peak of EEG recording of P3 is

positive at Cz channel under the reference to the tip of nose. Suppose to study P3 using

ICA. Since the polarity of the projected IC might not be determined under the partially

correct ICA model [10], the polarity of the projected P3 component may be either

positive or negative at Cz. As mentioned above, the prior knowledge is that P3 should be

positive at Cz under the reference to the tip of nose. Thus, it is necessary to check the

polarity of the projected P3 component at Cz. If it is negative, it may be corrected by

multiplying ‘-1’. By this way, the correction on the abnormal polarity of the projected

component in the electrode field can assist to achieve more accurate projection [10]. Then,

such correction can benefit the subtraction. Indeed, to modify such abnormal polarity

does not belong to ICA anymore, and it is the post processing to ICA. The variance

indeterminacy of an IC is totally different with the modification on the projection as

discussed above.

In summary, Fig.1 demonstrates the paradigm of the ICA based subtraction with

the correction on the abnormal polarity of the projected component in the electrode field.

To the overdetermined ICA model, the dimension reduction should be executed first

[28,29]. In this case, the number of sensors is larger than that of sources, and the EEG

recordings γ t can be presented as

γ t Λs t , (25)

reduction may be achieved through the principal component analysis (PCA) [28,29].

13

Through PCA, the dimension of the sensors can be reduced to the dimension of sources

as the following

x t Ωγ t Ω Λs t As t , (26)

where, Ω is the dimension reduction matrix derived from performing PCA on γ t and its

dimensions are N by M , and A ΩΛ . Then, the projection of one IC to all electrodes can

be[28,29]

φ t Ω T e k t Ω T AGs t Ω T ΩΛGs t ΛGs t , (27)

ψ t γ t φ t Λ(I G )s t . (28)

reducing the overdetermined model to the determined model, 2) estimating the

determined model. In case any of the two factors is not well executed, the projection and

the subtraction will not be correct.

In some studies, it might be possible that several components should be rejected. We

suggest subtracting the projection component by component. For simplicity, we take the

example of two components to be rejected.

For example, the k1th and k 2th elements in y t are to be projected. Then, the k1th and

k 2th column vectors of projection matrix B should be the projection vectors. The projection

of two components is usually implemented as

e k1 ,k2 t b k1 , b k2 yk1 t , yk 2 t b k1 yk1 t b k2 yk2 t .

T

(29)

In contrast to the Eq. (4), the Eq. (29) explicitly illustrates that the parallel

projection of two components produces the summation of their individual projection. In

case a certain projected component has the abnormal polarity in the electrode field, the

parallel projection may not permit further correction on it. It should be noted that when

the artifacts subspace is entirely separated out and when all the artifacts components are

identified, the rejection of artifacts by subtracting the parallel projection of all artifacts

components is correct. However, the artifact subspace and other subspaces can not be

14

entirely separated in practice, and it is impossible to determine all the artifacts

components in reality.

So, when several components are to be rejected, subtracting their individual

projection one by one from the EEG recordings provides the opportunity to correct the

abnormal polarity of the projected component in the electrode field. This may finally

contribute more precise subtraction.

4. Simulation

In the study of EEG/ERPs, it is impossible to know the true sources of the brain. Thus,

we can not examine the performance of ICA algorithms decomposition through using the

criterion related to sources and mixing coefficients as that is done in other fields [1,26].

For example, to speech processing, the sources and mixing coefficients may be managed

to get available [2]. This study attempts to borrow the method in those disciplines to

evaluate the performance of ICA for the study of EEG/ERPs.

Indeed, the simulation is to validate the conclusions derived from the

mathematical deduction in Section 2. During deducing the mathematical equations, we do

not add any assumptions to types of sources, polarities and variances of the sources, the

extract number of the sources, magnitudes or signs of elements of the mixing matrix, or

locations of electrodes at the scalp in the ICA model for EEG recordings. Thus, from this

point of view, any data with any polarity and any variance can be regarded as the source,

any squared matrix with the full rank can be regarded as the mixing matrix in the Eq. (1),

and any point on the scalp can be the location for an electrode in our study. Hence, it is

reasonable to assume the extracted components by ICA from EEG recordings to be

sources of electrical brain activities. Performing ICA on EEG implicitly admits that EEG

recordings conform to the linear transformation model of latent variables. Then, we just

generate such a model. Thus, we have the sources of the brain activities (the sources in

Eq.(1)) and mapping coefficients (the mixing matrix in Eq.(1)). And then, the

qualification of an ICA related procedure is possible through the available sources and

mixing model.

Particularly, the goal of the simulation is to reveal how the correction on the

abnormal polarity of the projection of an IC in the electrode field can benefit the rejection

15

of that IC. The supposed sources for the simulation are from the dataset of auditory ERPs

[4]. In the section of Introduction, we have mentioned three categories to further process

the back-projection. The latter two are to reject artifacts and remove brain responses

related to the major task during the elicitation of an ERP. Hence, this part presents the

simulation of the latter two cases through subtracting the projection of a selected IC from

EEG recordings, respectively. The whole simulation was under the environment of

MATLAB (Version 7.1, The Mathworks, Inc., Natick, MA).

This study is targeted to analyze the association between subtraction and ICA

decomposition. Then, in order to evaluate the performance of ICA decomposition, we

specially define the signal to interference ratio (SIR) for each mapped source to other

mapped sources at each electrode as below,

.

2

aim sm t aij s j t

T 2 T n

SIRA 10 log10 (30)

t 1 t 1 j 1, j m

And the SIR for each source to other sources in one extracted component follows

.

2

ckm sm t ckj s j t

T 2 T n

SIRC 10 log10 (31)

t 1 t 1 j 1, j m

To reveal the benefit of the correction of the abnormal polarity, the signal to difference

ratio improvement (SDRI) at the i th electrode is made as

SDR I 10 log10 var zi t vi t var zˆi t vi t , (32)

where, var means the variance of a signal, zi t is the subtraction of the projection of an

IC without the polarity correction under the partially correct ICA model, and zˆi t denotes

the subtraction of the corrected projection of that IC, and vi t represents the subtraction

of the projection of that IC under the entirely correct ICA model.

The supposed sources are shown by the top row of Fig.2. In this study, we assume the

second source is the artifact which needs to be rejected. In this simulation, the variance of

the second source is ten times of other sources.

16

Having obtained the six sources, we randomly generated a six by six mixing

matrix with the full rank. Then, the following seven steps complete the whole simulation

in the EEG study using ICA in Section 2.

1) Generating EEG recordings as the middle row of Fig.2 depicts. The

multiplication of the mixing matrix and supposed sources produces the EEG recordings

and simulates that the six sources simultaneously transfer from their locations in the brain

to six points of the scalp.

2) Extracting ICs as the bottom row of Fig.2 describes. This is achieved through

the multiplication of the unmixing matrix and EEG recordings. To reveal the

performance of the separation, the global matrix is shown by the middle row of Fig.3.

Indeed, ICA has many algorithms [1,26]. To avoid the errors taken from badly choosing

an ICA algorithm for extracting components from the simulated EEG recordings, the

global matrix C is generated directly instead of any ICA solution. And then, the unmixing

matrix W is derived from the Eq. (6) with the mixing matrix and the global matrix. Since

an ICA algorithm is to seek the unmixing matrix, this treatment of the global matrix

C and the unmixing matrix W is reasonable for the further analysis on the performance of

the projection and subtraction. During the generation of the global matrix C, we made it

have only one element with the relatively larger absolute value in each row and each

column and the magnitude of any other element was very small. By this way, it is

equivalent to achieve satisfactory performance of ICA in reality as mentioned in the

subsection 2.7.1. Moreover, such treatment of the global matrix C covers the partially

correct ICA model. This is because the entirely correct ICA model corresponds to the

global matrix which has only one nonzero element in each row and each column.

3) Selecting one extracted component for the further study. It happened that the

second component corresponds to the source which was to be rejected in this study.

4) Projecting the selected component back to the electrode filed. The projection is

demonstrated by the solid line of the top row in Fig.4.

5) Mapping the source corresponding to the selected component from its location

in the brain to those six points on the scalp. This is acquired through the multiplication of

the corresponding column of the mixing matrix and the source, which is interpreted by

the Eq. (23). The mapping is actually the theoretical expectation and is shown by the dash

17

dot of the top row of Fig.4. In theory, the projection of the corresponding extracted

component under the entirely correct ICA model should be identical to such mapping of a

source as mentioned above.

6) Checking the polarities of the projection in contrast to the mapping in the

electrode field. If any polarity of the projection at any electrode is opposite to the

counterpart of the mapping, the polarity is reversed. The corrected projection is depicted

by the dashed line of the top row in Fig.4.

7) Subtracting the projection, corrected projection, and the mapping from the

EEG recordings, respectively, and the results are displayed in the bottom row of Fig.4.

Fig.3 shows the mixing matrix A , i.e., the mapping coefficients of each source to

each point along the scalp, the global matrix C , i.e., the separation coefficients for each

source, and the source identification matrix G , i.e., coefficients to identify which source

corresponds to the selected component for the projection and the subtraction. Both of the

global matrix C and the source identification matrix G indicate that the ICA

decomposition should be satisfactory in this example. This is because the global matrix

C has one element with much larger magnitude than that of any other element in each

row and column, and the source identification matrix G possesses only one diagonal

element with the amplitude approaching to 1 and all other elements of the matrix are

nearly zeros. Moreover, the matrix G identifies that the second source is to be projected

and subtracted.

As shown by the Fig.4, the abnormal polarity of the projected component at the

third channel appears in the electrode field. If it is not corrected, the subtraction of this

projected component from the mixture severely violates the mapping, i.e., the theoretical

expectation. It is remarkable that after this abnormal polarity of the projected component

is modified according to the mapping, the subtraction of the corrected projected

component gets much closer to what is expected in theory. In this simulation, the SIRA

of the second source at the third channel was about -16.9dB, and SIRC of the second

source was about 40.0dB, and the SDRI was about 35.1dB. This simulation demonstrates

the effectiveness of the correction of the abnormal polarity in subtracting the artifact from

EEG recordings. Moreover, Fig.5 demonstrates the results of projection and subtraction

of one independent component extracted by FastICA [1] under the same simulation as

18

stated above. All parameters of FastICA were in default used in the FastICA toolbox [1].

In the channel-5 of the upper plot, the modified projection (black line) becomes much

closer to the projection (blue line) under the entirely correct ICA model in contract to the

projection (red line) without the modification. This figure means that the results shown

here are realistic.

To better reveal the performance of the correction on the abnormal polarity of the

projected component, we repeated the identical simulation 1000 runs. During the 1000

simulations, the sources did not change, the mixing matrix changed, and the rejected

component in every simulation corresponded to the same source. In the 1000 runs, the

abnormal polarity appeared in 212 runs. Among 212 runs, there were 60 runs where the

abnormal polarity happened at two channels, hence, the abnormal polarity occurred

altogether 272 times. Fig.6 exhibits the SIRA, SIRC and SDRI under each time of the

occurrence of the abnormal polarity. In so many times, the averaged SIRA was -13.1dB

(standard deviation (SD): 12.0), and the averaged SIRC was 49.5dB (SD: 9.4), and the

averaged SDRI was 7.8dB (SD: 8.1). These parameters mean that the performance of

ICA decomposition should be satisfactory and the abnormal polarity correction

significantly improves the accuracy of the subtraction.

In this simulation, the six sources had equal variances, and the second source was to be

rejected. We assumed the second source to be the response of the major task during the

elicitation of an ERP. The interest of the study is to investigate the brain responses out of

the major task. Indeed, this simulation also reveals the case that the artifact has the

identical variance as that of an ERP.

The simulation procedure was kept identical to that in the subsection 4.2. We also

repeated the identical simulation 1000 runs. During the 1000 simulations, the sources did

not change, the mixing matrix changed, and the rejected component in every simulation

corresponded to the same source. In the 1000 runs, the abnormal polarity appeared in 103

runs. Among 103 runs, there were 31 runs where the abnormal polarity happened at two

channels, hence, the abnormal polarity occurred altogether 134 times. In so many times,

the averaged SIRA was -27.9dB (SD: 14.0), and the averaged SIRC was 36.2dB (SD:

19

10.2), and the averaged SDRI was 8.6dB (SD: 8.9). These parameters indicate that the

performance of ICA decomposition should also be satisfactory and the abnormal polarity

correction significantly improves the accuracy of the subtraction too.

EEG recordings can be modeled as mixtures of sources of electrical brain activities

[5,24,25]. The sufficient rejection of a source using ICA may be achieved through

subtracting the projection of the corresponding IC from the EEG recordings in the

electrode field. The necessary condition is that ICA decomposition provides the entirely

correct ICA model, i.e., every extracted component is only the scaled version of one

source. However, ICA decomposition only supplies the partially correct ICA model in

reality, i.e., an extracted IC might still be the mixture of some sources. As a result, the

selected IC may include the information of some other sources, and the information of

the source to be rejected may also exist in other ICs. Consequently, the subtraction can

not completely reject one source and can inevitably remove parts of other sources under

the partially correct ICA model.

In order to improve the accuracy in rejecting a source in this case, one simple way

is to correct the abnormal polarity of the corresponding projected component in the

electrode field. This is because the polarity only has two freedoms: positive and negative.

No matter whether the polarity of a source of the electrical brain activity is known or not

at any electrode, the polarity of the corresponding projected component at one electrode

can keep either identical or opposite to the prior knowledge. Numerical simulations in

this study demonstrate that correction on the abnormal polarity is significantly beneficial

and effective to improve the accuracy of the subtraction for the rejection of an IC in case

the polarity is the prior knowledge. Except the errors taken by the abnormal polarity,

Fig.4 also evidently shows that there is significant difference between the subtraction in

theory and the subtraction in practice at some channels without the abnormal polarity

problem. This is because ICs are estimated under the partially correct ICA model and the

variance indeterminacy of an IC can not fully be corrected by the back projection [10].

To the polarity of a well-studied ERP or an artifact at any electrode, we may know it

from previous publications; however, to the magnitude of an ERP, it is impossible to

20

know the real one. As a result, no post processing to modify the magnitude of the

projection can be implemented in the electrode field. However, it should be noted that to

correct variance ambiguity of an IC in ICA decomposition by the back projection is not at

all identical with the discussed modification on the variance errors and the polarity errors

in the electrode signals of projected components under the partially correct ICA model.

When several sources are required to be rejected, we recommend projecting and

subtracting their corresponding component by component. This is because the parallel

projection of several components is the summation of their individual projection and does

not permit the correction of the abnormal polarities of the projection of any component at

any electrode. The sequential projection provides the opportunity to check the polarity of

each projected component at each electrode, avoiding error taken by the abnormal

polarity of any projected component at any electrode.

In reality, we can never know the true sources of brain activities and real mapping

matrix for those sources, hence, it is impossible to evaluate the performance of ICA

decomposition with the global matrix. To the simulated ICA decomposition in this study,

the improvement of the signal to interference ratio is about 60dB. Within the knowledge

of authors, we can tell that such performance of ICA decomposition should be

satisfactory. Such analysis in the simulation not only indicates that the proposed method

is useful in the examples taken in this study, but also implies that even if ICA

decomposition is satisfactory in practice, the abnormal polarity of the projection of an

independent component may occur and the further correction on it may assist to achieve

more accurate rejection of that component. Moreover, we only take the simplest example

of ICA in this study. For example, the number of sources is known in the simulation, and

no additive noises interfere with the separation. To the ERP study in practice, the number

of sources is unknown and the sensor noises should be present. This means the real ERP

data can be much more complicated than that in the simulation of this study. Thus, the

performance of ICA may be possibly not as satisfactory as that in the simulation, and

then the abnormal polarity may appear more frequently than that in the simulation. This

indicates that the significance and necessity to check and correct the abnormal polarity of

the projection of an IC when subtracting the projection from EEG recordings.

21

Indeed, this study mainly discusses the denoising of EEG recordings through the

ICA based procedure. The proposed modification is also appreciable to other linear

transformation methods to subtract the projection of the estimated source of the artifact.

To the real-time brain computer interface system [14-16], the denoising is very

fundamental and important, and any method can contribute to it should be thoroughly

analyzed and validated. This study examines the relationship between the performance of

the ICA decomposition and the accuracy of subtracting the projection of the extracted IC

of the artifact, which compensates the previous study on procedures based on ICA to

reject artifacts. From this point of view, our study is significant, necessary and useful.

In summary, this study tries to suggest that when using ICA to reject artifacts, it

may be beneficial to check the polarity of the projection of the artifact component in the

electrode field and then to correct the abnormal polarity of the projection at some

electrodes before subtracting the projection.

6. Acknowledgement

We thank all anonymous reviewers for giving very useful comments to improve our

study. F. Cong thanks Mr. Qing Zhang (School of Electrical Engineering and computer

science, Kyungpook National University, Daegu, Korea), Dr. Qibin Zhao (Laboratory for

Advanced Brain Signal Processing, RIKEN Brain Science Institute, Japan), and Mr.

Zhilin Zhang (University of California, San Diego, USA) for their good comments on

analyzing the polarity correction, and thanks professor Heikki Lyytinen, Dr. Piia

Astikainen, and Dr. Paavo Leppänen (University of Jyväskylä, Finland) for discussion in

the field of event-related potentials.

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25

Figure Captions

Figure 1: Paradigm to reject one component from EEG recordings using ICA

Figure 6: SIRA, SIRC and SDRI under each time of occurrence of the abnormal polarity

26

Figures

Fig.1

27

Fig.2

28

Fig.3

29

Fig.4

Fig.5

30

Fig.6

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