Envelope of the imaginary coherence can identify EEG/MEG functional connectivity in sensor space

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The brain's functional connectivity (FC) estimated at sensor level from electromagnetic (EEG/MEG) signals can provide quick and useful information towards understanding cognition and brain disorders. Volume conduction (VC) is a fundamental issue in FC analysis due to the effects of instantaneous correlations. FC methods based on the imaginary part of the coherence (iCOH) of any two signals are readily robust to VC effects, but neglecting the real part of the coherence leads to negligible FC when the processes are truly connected but with zero or π-phase (modulus 2π) interaction. We ameliorate this issue by proposing a novel method that implements an envelope of the imaginary coherence (EIC) to approximate the coherence estimate of supposedly active underlying sources. We compare EIC with state-of-the-art FC measures that included lagged coherence, iCOH, phase lag index (PLI) and weighted PLI (wPLI), using bivariate autoregressive and stochastic neural mass models. Additionally, we create realistic simulations where 3 and 5 regions were mapped on a template cortical surface and synthetic MEG signals were obtained after computing the electromagnetic leadfield. With this simulation and comparison study, we also demonstrate the feasibility of sensor FC analysis using receiver operating curve analysis whilst varying the signal's noise level. However, in sensor-based FC analysis, its application should be interpreted with caution given the known limitations mainly due to VC. As VC effects are also visible in source-based FC analysis, the techniques under study would have also critical application. Overall, we found that EIC and iCOH demonstrate superior results with most accurate FC maps. In our study we showed that EIC and iCOH complement each other in different scenarios, which can be important to study normal and diseased brain activity.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 28 Mar 2018
EventMEG UK 2018 - Ulster University, Magee Campus, Derry~Londonderry, Northern Ireland
Duration: 26 Mar 201828 Mar 2018


ConferenceMEG UK 2018
Country/TerritoryNorthern Ireland
Internet address


  • functional connectivity
  • Imaginary coherence
  • magnetoencephalography (MEG)
  • sensor space


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