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Analysis on subtracting projection of extracted independent components from


EEG recordings

Article  in  Biomedizinische Technik/Biomedical Engineering · August 2011


DOI: 10.1515/BMT.2011.102 · Source: PubMed

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Analysis on Subtracting Projection of Extracted Independent
Components from EEG Recordings
Fengyu Cong, Igor Kalyakin, Zheng Chang, Tapani Ristaniemi

Department of Mathematical Information Technology, University of Jyväskylä


Jyväskylä, Finland

Corresponding author: Fengyu Cong


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

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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.

Keywords: Artifact, ERP, ICA, polarity, projection, rejection, subtraction

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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

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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

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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.

2. Subtracting Projection of One Component


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.

2.1 Determined ICA model and polarity ambiguity of independent component


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

x t    a s  t   As  t  ,
j 1
j j
(1)

where, x  t    x1  t  ,, xN  t   represents EEG recordings, s  t    s1  t  ,, sN  t   symbolizes


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.

2.2 Subtraction to reject one component


ICA is to seek an unmixing matrix W . With this matrix, mixtures are linearly
transformed into ICs as the following,
y t   Wxt  , (2)

y  t    y1  t  ,, y N  t  
T
where, is the estimation of independent sources in Eq. (1), and their

variances and polarities are indeterminate. y t  denotes samples of all estimated


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)

where, b k is the k th column of B , and yk  t  is the k th element of y t  .

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.

By now, the relationship between z  t  , A and s  t  is not clarified yet. To reveal

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

2.3 Analysis on subtraction through source identification matrix


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)

Specifically, one estimated component can be described as


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  AC1  AQ , (9)
where, Q  C1  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 C1 . For example, the k th column of B could be
b k  Aq k , (10)
where, q k denotes the k th column of C1 , and the i th element of the q k is as

 1
ik
M ki
qik  , (11)
C

where, M ki represents the k , i  th minor of C , i  1, , N .


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
ik
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.

2.4 Entirely and partially correct ICA models


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.

2.5 Subtraction under entirely 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
C1  D1 P 1  D1 P T , (17)

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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  D1  P k ,: 
T
, (19)

where,  P k ,: symbolizes the k th row of P . It should be noted: 1) the inverse of the

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

element of 1,, N  , i, j is the element of 1,, N  , d is the element of 1,, N  \ m . As a

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).

2.6 Subtraction under partially correct ICA model


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.

2.7 Improving accuracy of subtraction under partially correct ICA model


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.

2.7.1 Developing better ICA algorithms to improve accuracy of subtraction


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.

2.7.2 Correcting abnormal polarity of projection of IC to improve accuracy of


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

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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.

2.8 Overdetermined ICA model


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)

where, Λ is the mixing matrix with the dimensions of M by N (M  N ). The dimension


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)

and the subtraction of the projection from EEG recordings is


ψ  t   γ  t   φ  t   Λ(I  G )s  t  . (28)

The determination of the source identification matrix G depends on two factors: 1)


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.

3. Subtracting Projection of Several Components


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).

4.1 Criteria to evaluate performance of proposed method


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.

4.2 Simulation for rejecting artifact


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.

4.3 Simulation for removing brain responses of major task


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.

5. Conclusion and Discussion


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

Figure 2: Sources, mixtures, and estimated components

Figure 3: Mixing matrix A, global matrix C and source identification matrix G

Figure 4: Projection and subtraction of one undesired component by simulation

Figure 5: Projection and subtraction of one undesired component extracted by FastICA

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

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Figures
Fig.1

27
Fig.2

28
Fig.3

29
Fig.4

Fig.5

30
Fig.6

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