BrainBeats as an Open-Source EEGLAB Plugin to Jointly Analyze EEG and Cardiovascular Signals

April 26, 2024
Cédric Cannard, Garret Yount, PhD, Helané Wahbeh, ND, MCR

Cannard, C., Wahbeh, H., Delorme, A. BrainBeats as an Open-Source EEGLAB Plugin to Jointly Analyze EEG and Cardiovascular Signals. J. Vis. Exp. (206), e65829, doi:10.3791/65829 (2024).


The interplay between the brain and the cardiovascular systems is garnering increased attention for its potential to advance our understanding of human physiology and improve health outcomes. However, the multimodal analysis of these signals is challenging due to the lack of guidelines, standardized signal processing and statistical tools, graphical user interfaces (GUIs), and automation for processing large datasets or increasing reproducibility. A further void exists in standardized EEG and heart-rate variability (HRV) feature extraction methods, undermining clinical diagnostics or the robustness of machine learning (ML) models. In response to these limitations, we introduce the BrainBeats toolbox. Implemented as an open-source EEGLAB plugin, BrainBeats integrates three main protocols: 1) Heartbeat-evoked potentials (HEP) and oscillations (HEO) for assessing time-locked brain-heart interplay at the millisecond accuracy; 2) EEG and HRV feature extraction for examining associations/differences between various brain and heart metrics or for building robust feature-based ML models; 3) Automated extraction of heart artifacts from EEG signals to remove any potential cardiovascular contamination while conducting EEG analysis. We provide a step-by-step tutorial for applying these three methods to an open-source dataset containing simultaneous 64-channel EEG, ECG, and PPG signals. Users can easily fine-tune parameters to tailor their unique research needs using the graphical user interface (GUI) or the command line. BrainBeats should make brain-heart interplay research more accessible and reproducible.

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