Optimization of an independent component analysis approach for artifact identification and removal in magnetoencephalographic signals

Giulia Barbati, Camillo Porcaro, Filippo Zappasodi, Paolo Maria Rossini, Franca Tecchio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To propose a noise reduction procedure for magnetoencephalography (MEG) signals introducing an automatic detection system of artifactual components (ICs) separated by an independent component analysis (ICA) algorithm, and a control cycle on reconstructed cleaned data to recovery part of non-artifactual signals possibly lost by the blind mechanism. Methods: The procedure consisted of three main steps: (1) ICA for blind source separation (BSS); (2) automatic detection method of artifactual components, based on statistical and spectral ICs characteristics; (3) control cycle on 'discrepancy,' i.e. on the difference between original data and those reconstructed using only ICs automatically retained. Simulated data were generated as representative mixtures of some common brain frequencies, a source of internal Gaussian noise, power line interference, and two real artifacts (electrocardiogram=ECG, electrooculogram=EOG), with the adjunction of a matrix of Gaussian external noise. Three real data samples were chosen as representative of spontaneous noisy MEG data. Results: In simulated data the proposed set of markers selected three components corresponding to ECG, EOG and the Gaussian internal noise; in real-data examples, the automatic detection system showed a satisfactory performance in detecting artifactual ICs. 'Discrepancy' control cycle was redundant in simulated data, as expected, but it was a significant amelioration in two of the three real-data cases. Conclusions: The proposed automatic detection approach represents a suitable strengthening and simplification of pre-processing data analyses. The proposed 'discrepancy' evaluation, after automatic pruning, seems to be a suitable way to render negligible the risk of loose non-artifactual activity when applying BSS methods to real data. Significance: The present noise reduction procedure, including ICA separation phase, automatic artifactual ICs selection and 'discrepancy' control cycle, showed good performances both on simulated and real MEG data. Moreover, application to real signals suggests the procedure to be able to separate different cerebral activity sources, even if characterized by very similar frequency contents.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1220-1232
Number of pages13
JournalClinical Neurophysiology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2004


  • Automatic detection
  • Blind source separation
  • Discrepancy
  • Independent component analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Neurology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Physiology (medical)


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