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Int J Psychophysiol. 2015 Sep;97(3):189-209. doi: 10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2015.04.012. Epub 2015 Apr 25.

Issues and considerations for using the scalp surface Laplacian in EEG/ERP research: A tutorial review.

Author information

1
Division of Cognitive Neuroscience, New York State Psychiatric Institute, New York, NY, USA; Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons, New York, NY, USA. Electronic address: kayserj@nyspi.columbia.edu.
2
Division of Cognitive Neuroscience, New York State Psychiatric Institute, New York, NY, USA; Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons, New York, NY, USA.

Abstract

Despite the recognition that the surface Laplacian may counteract adverse effects of volume conduction and recording reference for surface potential data, electrophysiology as a discipline has been reluctant to embrace this approach for data analysis. The reasons for such hesitation are manifold but often involve unfamiliarity with the nature of the underlying transformation, as well as intimidation by a perceived mathematical complexity, and concerns of signal loss, dense electrode array requirements, or susceptibility to noise. We revisit the pitfalls arising from volume conduction and the mandated arbitrary choice of EEG reference, describe the basic principle of the surface Laplacian transform in an intuitive fashion, and exemplify the differences between common reference schemes (nose, linked mastoids, average) and the surface Laplacian for frequently-measured EEG spectra (theta, alpha) and standard event-related potential (ERP) components, such as N1 or P3. We specifically review common reservations against the universal use of the surface Laplacian, which can be effectively addressed by employing spherical spline interpolations with an appropriate selection of the spline flexibility parameter and regularization constant. We argue from a pragmatic perspective that not only are these reservations unfounded but that the continued predominant use of surface potentials poses a considerable impediment on the progress of EEG and ERP research.

KEYWORDS:

Current source density (CSD); EEG recording reference; EEG spectra; ERP component; Event-related potentials (ERPs); Spherical spline interpolation; Surface Laplacian (SL); Volume conduction

PMID:
25920962
PMCID:
PMC4537804
DOI:
10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2015.04.012
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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