Distributed analysis of simultaneous EEG-fMRI time-series: modeling and interpretation issues

F. Esposito*, A. Aragri, T. Piccoli, G. Tedeschi, R. Goebel, F. Di Salle

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and electroencephalography (EEG) represent brain activity in terms of a reliable anatomical localization and a detailed temporal evolution of neural signals. Simultaneous EEG-fMRI recordings offer the possibility to greatly enrich the significance and the interpretation of the single modality results because the same neural processes are observed from the same brain at the same time. Nonetheless, the different physical nature of the measured signals by the two techniques renders the coupling not always straightforward, especially in cognitive experiments where spatially localized and distributed effects coexist and evolve temporally at different temporal scales. The purpose of this article is to illustrate the combination of simultaneously recorded EEG and fMRI signals exploiting the principles of EEG distributed source modeling. We define a common source space for fMRI and EEG signal projection and gather a conceptually unique framework for the spatial and temporal comparative analysis. We illustrate this framework in a graded-load working-memory simultaneous EEG-fMRI experiment based on the n-back task where sustained load-dependent changes in the blood-oxygenation-level-dependent (BOLD) signals during continuous item memorization co-occur with parametric changes in the EEG theta power induced at each single item. In line with previous studies, we demonstrate on two single-subject cases how the presented approach is capable of colocalizing in midline frontal regions two phenomena simultaneously observed at different temporal scales, such as the sustained negative changes in BOLD activity and the parametric EEG theta synchronization. We discuss the presented approach in relation to modeling and interpretation issues typically arising in simultaneous EEG-fMRI studies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1120-1130
JournalMagnetic Resonance Imaging
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2009

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