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IEEE Trans Biomed Eng. 1992 Jun;39(6):541-57.

Multiple dipole modeling and localization from spatio-temporal MEG data.

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TRW Systems Engineering & Development Division, One Space Park, Redondo Beach, CA 90278.


An array of biomagnetometers may be used to measure the spatio-temporal neuromagnetic field or magnetoencephalogram (MEG) produced by neural activity in the brain. A popular model for the neural activity produced in response to a given sensory stimulus is a set of current dipoles, where each dipole represents the primary current associated with the combined activation of a large number of neurons located in a small volume of the brain. An important problem in the interpretation of MEG data from evoked response experiments is the localization of these neural current dipoles. We present here a linear algebraic framework for three common spatio-temporal dipole models: i) unconstrained dipoles, ii) dipoles with a fixed location, and iii) dipoles with a fixed orientation and location. In all cases, we assume that the location, orientation, and magnitude of the dipoles are unknown. With a common model, we show how the parameter estimation problem may be decomposed into the estimation of the time invariant parameters using nonlinear least-squares minimization, followed by linear estimation of the associated time varying parameters. A subspace formulation is presented and used to derive a suboptimal least-squares subspace scanning method. The resulting algorithm is a special case of the well-known MUltiple SIgnal Classification (MUSIC) method, in which the solution (multiple dipole locations) is found by scanning potential locations using a simple one dipole model. Principal components analysis (PCA) dipole fitting has also been used to individually fit single dipoles in a multiple dipole problem. Analysis is presented here to show why PCA dipole fitting will fail in general, whereas the subspace method presented here will generally succeed. Numerically efficient means of calculating the cost functions are presented, and problems of model order selection and missing moments are discussed. Results from a simulation and a somatosensory experiment are presented.

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