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Front Hum Neurosci. 2012 Oct 9;6:278. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2012.00278. eCollection 2012.

Combining EEG and eye tracking: identification, characterization, and correction of eye movement artifacts in electroencephalographic data.

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1
Institute of Cognitive Science, University of Osnabrück Osnabrück, Germany.

Abstract

Eye movements introduce large artifacts to electroencephalographic recordings (EEG) and thus render data analysis difficult or even impossible. Trials contaminated by eye movement and blink artifacts have to be discarded, hence in standard EEG-paradigms subjects are required to fixate on the screen. To overcome this restriction, several correction methods including regression and blind source separation have been proposed. Yet, there is no automated standard procedure established. By simultaneously recording eye movements and 64-channel-EEG during a guided eye movement paradigm, we investigate and review the properties of eye movement artifacts, including corneo-retinal dipole changes, saccadic spike potentials and eyelid artifacts, and study their interrelations during different types of eye- and eyelid movements. In concordance with earlier studies our results confirm that these artifacts arise from different independent sources and that depending on electrode site, gaze direction, and choice of reference these sources contribute differently to the measured signal. We assess the respective implications for artifact correction methods and therefore compare the performance of two prominent approaches, namely linear regression and independent component analysis (ICA). We show and discuss that due to the independence of eye artifact sources, regression-based correction methods inevitably over- or under-correct individual artifact components, while ICA is in principle suited to address such mixtures of different types of artifacts. Finally, we propose an algorithm, which uses eye tracker information to objectively identify eye-artifact related ICA-components (ICs) in an automated manner. In the data presented here, the algorithm performed very similar to human experts when those were given both, the topographies of the ICs and their respective activations in a large amount of trials. Moreover it performed more reliable and almost twice as effective than human experts when those had to base their decision on IC topographies only. Furthermore, a receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis demonstrated an optimal balance of false positive and false negative at an area under curve (AUC) of more than 0.99. Removing the automatically detected ICs from the data resulted in removal or substantial suppression of ocular artifacts including microsaccadic spike potentials, while the relevant neural signal remained unaffected. In conclusion the present work aims at a better understanding of individual eye movement artifacts, their interrelations and the respective implications for eye artifact correction. Additionally, the proposed ICA-procedure provides a tool for optimized detection and correction of eye movement-related artifact components.

KEYWORDS:

EEG; artifact correction; eye movements; eye tracking; independent component analysis (ICA); regression

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