Feasibility of Multi-Component Spatio-Temporal Modeling of Cognitively Generated EEG Data and its Potential Application to Research in Functional Anatomy and Clinical Neuropathology




Zeman, Philip Michael

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This dissertation is a compendium of multiple research papers that, together, address two main objectives. The first objective and primary research question is to determine whether or not, through a procedure of independent component analysis (ICA)-based data mining, volume-domain validation, and source volume estimation, it is possible to construct a meaningful, objective, and informative model of brain activity from scalpacquired EEG data. Given that a methodology to construct such a model can be created, the secondary objective and research question investigated is whether or not the sources derived from the EEG data can be used to construct a model of complex brain function associated with the spatial navigation and the virtual Morris Water Task (vMWT). The assumptions of the signal and noise characteristics of scalp-acquired EEG data were discussed in the context of what is currently known about functional brain activity to identify appropriate characteristics by which to separate the activities comprising EEG data into parts. A new EEG analysis methodology was developed using both synthetic and real EEG data that encompasses novel algorithms for (1) data-mining of the EEG to obtain the activities of individual areas of the brain, (2) anatomical modeling of brain sources that provides information about the 3-dimensional volumes from which each of the activities separated from the EEG originates, and (3) validation of data mining results to determine if a source activity found via the data-mining step originates from a distinct modular unit inside the head or if it is an artefact. The methodology incorporating the algorithms developed was demonstrated for EEG data collected from study participants while they navigated a computer-based virtual maze environment. The brain activities of participants were meaningfully depicted via brain source volume estimation and representation of the activity relationships of multiple areas of the brain. A case study was used to demonstrate the analysis methodology as applied to the EEG of an individual person. In a second study, a group EEG dataset was investigated and activity relationships between areas of the brain for participants of the group study were individually depicted to show how brain activities of individuals can be compared to the group. The results presented in this dissertation support the conclusion that it is feasible to use ICA-based data mining to construct a physiological model of coordinated parts of the brain related to the vMWT from scalp-recorded EEG data. The methodology was successful in creating an objective and informative model of brain activity from EEG data. Furthermore, the evidence presented indicates that this methodology can be used to provide meaningful evaluation of the brain activities of individual persons and to make comparisons of individual persons against a group. In sum, the main contributions of this body of work are 5 fold. The technical contributions are: (1) a new data mining algorithm tailored for EEG, (2) an EEG component validation algorithm that identifies noise components via their poor representation in a head model, (3) a volume estimation algorithm that estimates the region in the brain from which each source waveform found via data mining originates, (4) a new procedure to study brain activities associated with spatial navigation. The main contribution of this work to the understanding of brain function is (5) evidence of specific functional systems within the brain that are used while persons participate in the vMWT paradigm (Livingstone and Skelton, 2007) examining spatial navigation.



brain activity, scalp-acquired EEG, spatial navigation, virtual Morris Water Task