Noninvasive Source Localization of Interictal EEG Spikes: Effects of Signal-to-Noise Ratio and Averaging

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Summary:Source localization using single current dipoles estimates equivalent centers of the spiking gray matter. The extent of the active cortex, however, is difficult to assess from scalp EEG because of the unknown individual volume conduction. The spatial scatter of dipole localizations of single spikes has been proposed as a measure of extent. Single spike localization, however, is strongly dependent on the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR), that is, the ratio of spike and background EEG amplitudes. On the other hand, averaging of all spikes yields only the localization of equivalent centers of activity. We investigated the influence of SNR and multiple subaverages on the estimation of spatial extent by comparing the localization scatter of 100 single spikes in 27 spike types of 25 epilepsy patients with 1000 different subaverages computed by random sampling and bootstrapping. Averaging increased SNR and therefore allowed for localization not only at the spike peak but also during spike onset when less cortex is active. In several subjects with known cortical lesions, the single spike scatter considerably exceeded the lesion. Single dipole scatter was highly correlated with SNR (r = −0.83, P < 0.0001) and was greatly reduced when analyzing multiple subaverages of 10, 25, 50, and 100 spikes. Thus, we found a dominant role of the SNR on the estimated extent and improvement by scatterplots based on the dipole localization of randomly sampled subaverages.

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