Delorme A, Palmer J, Onton J, Oostenveld R, Makeig S (2012) Independent EEG Sources Are Dipolar. PLoS ONE 7(2): e30135.
Independent component analysis (ICA) and blind source separation (BSS) methods are increasingly used to separate individual brain and non-brain source signals mixed by volume conduction in electroencephalographic (EEG) and other electrophysiological recordings. We compared results of decomposing thirteen 71-channel human scalp EEG datasets by 22 ICA and BSS algorithms, assessing the pairwise mutual information (PMI) in scalp channel pairs, the remaining PMI in component pairs, the overall mutual information reduction (MIR) effected by each decomposition, and decomposition ‘dipolarity’ defined as the number of component scalp maps matching the projection of a single equivalent dipole with less than a given residual variance. The least well-performing algorithm was principal component analysis (PCA); best performing were AMICA and other likelihood/mutual information based ICA methods. Though these and other commonly-used decomposition methods returned many similar components, across 18 ICA/BSS algorithms mean dipolarity varied linearly with both MIR and with PMI remaining between the resulting component time courses, a result compatible with an interpretation of many maximally independent EEG components as being volume-conducted projections of partially-synchronous local cortical field activity within single compact cortical domains. To encourage further method comparisons, the data and software used to prepare the results have been made available (http://sccn.ucsd.edu/wiki/BSSComparison).