Data-driven forward model inference for EEG brain imaging

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Electroencephalography (EEG) is a flexible and accessible tool with excellent temporal resolution but with a spatial resolution hampered by volume conduction. Reconstruction of the cortical sources of measured EEG activity partly alleviates this problem and effectively turns EEG into a brain imaging device. The quality of the source reconstruction depends on the forward model which details head geometry and conductivities of different head compartments. These person-specific factors are complex to determine, requiring detailed knowledge of the subject's anatomy and physiology. In this proof-of-concept study, we show that, even when anatomical knowledge is unavailable, a suitable forward model can be estimated directly from the EEG. We propose a data-driven approach that provides a low-dimensional parametrization of head geometry and compartment conductivities, built using a corpus of forward models. Combined with only a recorded EEG signal, we are able to estimate both the brain sources and a person-specific forward model by optimizing this parametrization. We thus not only solve an inverse problem, but also optimize over its specification. Our work demonstrates that personalized EEG brain imaging is possible, even when the head geometry and conductivities are unknown.

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