Chapter 05: Component Clustering Tools

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Arrow.small.left.gif Chapter 04: STUDY Data Visualization Tools
Tutorial Outline
Chapter 06: Study Statistics Arrow.small.right.gif


Clustering outline

There are several steps in the independent component clustering process, some of which we have already addressed in the previous section:

  1. Identify a set of epoched EEG datasets containing ICA weights to form the STUDY to be clustered.
  2. Specify the subject code and group, task condition, and session for each dataset.
  3. Identify the components in each dataset to cluster.
  4. Specify and compute ("pre-clustering") measures to use in clustering.
  5. Perform component clustering using these measures.
  6. View the scalp maps, dipole models, and activity measures of the component clusters.
  7. Perform signal processing and statistical estimation on the clusters.

This part of the tutorial will demonstrate how to use EEGLAB to interactively preprocess, cluster, and then visualize the dynamics of ICA (or other linear) signal components across one or many subjects by operating on the tutorial study.

Note that with only a few subjects and a few clusters (a necessary limitation, to be able to easily distribute the example), it may not be possible to find six consistent component clusters with uniform and easily identifiable natures. We have obtained much more satisfactory results clustering data from 15 to 30 or more subjects.

After following this tutorial using the sample data, we recommend you create a study for a larger group of datasets, if available, whose properties you know well. Then try clustering components this study in several ways. Carefully study the consistency and properties of the generated component clusters to determine which method of clustering produces clusters adequate for your research purposes.

Note that we recommend performing one ICA decomposition on all the data collected in each data collection session, even when task several conditions are involved. In our experience, ICA can return a more stable decomposition when trained on more data. Having components with common spatial maps also makes it easier to compare component behaviors across conditions. To use the same ICA decomposition for several conditions, simply run ICA on the continuous or epoched data before extracting separate datasets corresponding to specific task conditions of interest. Then extract specific condition datasets; they will automatically inherit the same ICA decomposition.

An example of ICA clustering is also available here.

Why cluster?

Is my Cz your Cz? To compare electrophysiological results across subjects, the usual practice of most researchers has been to identify scalp channels (for instance, considering recorded channel "Cz" in every subject's data to be spatially equivalent). Actually, this is an idealization, since the spatial relationship of any physical electrode site (for instance, Cz, the vertex in the International 10-20 System electrode labeling convention) to the underlying cortical areas that generate the activities summed by the (Cz) channel may be rather different in different subjects, depending on the physical locations, extents, and particularly the orientations of the cortical source areas, both in relation to the 'active' electrode site (e.g., Cz) and/or to its recorded reference channel (for example, the nose, right mastoid, or other site).

That is, data recorded from equivalent channel locations (Cz) in different subjects may sum activity of different mixtures of underlying cortical EEG sources, no matter how accurately the equivalent electrode locations were measured on the scalp. This fact is commonly ignored in EEG research.

Is my IC your IC? Following ICA (or other linear) decomposition, however, there is no natural and easy way to identify a component from one subject with one (or more) component(s) from another subject. A pair of independent components (ICs) from two subjects might resemble and/or differ from each other in many ways and to different degrees -- by differences in their scalp maps, power spectra, ERPs, ERSPs, ITCs, or etc. Thus, there are many possible (distance) measures of similarity, and many different ways of combining activity measures into a global distance measure to estimate component pair similarity.

Thus, the problem of identifying equivalent components across subjects is non-trivial. An attempt at doing this for 31-channel data was published in 2002 and 2004 in papers whose preparation required elaborate custom scripting (by Westerfield, Makeig, and Delorme). A 2005 paper by Onton et al. reported on dynamics of a frontal midline component cluster identified in 71-channel data. EEGLAB now contains functions and supporting structures for flexibly and efficiently performing and evaluating component clustering across subjects and conditions. With its supporting data structures and stand-alone 'std_' prefix analysis functions, EEGLAB makes it possible to summarize results of ICA-based analysis across more than one condition from a large number of subjects. This should make more routine use of linear decomposition and ICA possible to apply to a wide variety of hypothesis testing on datasets from several to many subjects.

The number of EEGLAB clustering and cluster-based functions will doubtless continue to grow in number and power in the future versions, since they allow the realistic use of ICA decomposition in hypothesis-driven research on large or small subject populations.

NOTE: Independent component clustering (like much other data clustering) has no single 'correct' solution. Interpreting results of component clustering, therefore, warrants caution. Claims to discovery of physiological facts from component clustering should be accompanied by thoughtful caveat and, preferably, by results of statistical testing against suitable null hypotheses.

Clustering Methods

There are two types of clustering methods available. One is the original (PCA) method and the other one is the new Measure Product (MP) method. Both methods produce reasonable clusters, but the new MP method requires less parameter tuning (it has only one parameter) and is therefore recommended. The PCA method is older and its implementation is more stable though. The MP method has been removed from version for lack of stability but you may contact the author at to obtain a copy.

Preparing to cluster (Pre-clustering) with PCA (original) method

The next step before clustering is to prepare the STUDY for clustering. This requires, first, identifying the components from each dataset to be entered into the clustering (as explained briefly above), then computing component activity measures for each study dataset (described below). For this purpose, for each dataset component the pre-clustering function pop_preclust.m first computes desired condition-mean measures used to determine the cluster 'distance' of components from each other. The condition means used to construct this overall cluster 'distance' measure may be selected from a palette of standard EEGLAB measures: ERP, power spectrum, ERSP, and/or ITC, as well as the component scalp maps (interpolated to a standard scalp grid) and their equivalent dipole model locations (if any).

Note: Dipole locations are the one type of pre-clustering information not computed by pop_preclust.m. As explained previously, to use dipole locations in clustering and/or in reviewing cluster results, dipole model information must be computed separately and saved in each dataset using the dipfit.m EEGLAB plug-in.

The aim of the pre-clustering interface is to build a global distance matrix specifying 'distances' between components for use by the clustering algorithm. This component 'distance' is typically abstract, estimating how 'far' the components' maps, dipole models, and/or activity measures are from one another in the space of the joint, PCA-reduced measures selected. This will become clearer as we detail the use of the graphic interface below.

KEY STEP 3: Computing component measures.

Invoke the pre-clustering graphic interface by using menu item Study > Build pre-clustering array.

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The top section of the pop_preclust.m gui above allows selecting clusters from which to produce a refined clustering. There is not yet any choice here -- we must select the parent datasets that contain all selected components from all datasets (e.g., the components selected at the end of the previous section).

The checkboxes on the left in the second section of the pop_preclust.m interface above allow selection of the component activity measures to include in the cluster location measure constructed to perform clustering. The goal of the pre-clustering function is to compute an N-dimensional cluster position vector for each component. These 'cluster position' vectors will be used to measure the 'distance' of components from each other in the N-dimensional cluster space. The value of N is arbitrary but, for numeric reasons pertaining to the clustering algorithms, should be kept relatively low (e.g., <10). In the cluster position vectors, for example, the three first values might represent the 3-D (x,y,z) spatial locations of the equivalent dipole for each component. The next, say, 10 values might represent the largest 10 principal components of the first condition ERP, the next 10, for the second condition ERP, and so on.

If you are computing (time/frequency) spectral perturbation images, you cannot use all their (near-3000) time-frequency values, which are redundant, in any case. Here also, you should use the Dim. column inputs to reduce the number of dimensions (for instance, to 10).

Note: pop_preclust.m reduces the dimension of the cluster position measures (incorporating information from ERP, ERSP, or other measures) by restricting the cluster position vectors to an N-dimensional principal subspace by principal component analysis (PCA).

You may wish to "normalize" these principal dimensions for the location and activity measures you select so their metrics are equivariant across measures. Do this by checking the checkbox under the norm column. This 'normalization' process involves dividing the measure data of all principal components by the standard deviation of the first PCA component for this measure. You may also specify a relative weight (versus other measures). For instance if you use two measures (A and B) and you want A to have twice the "weight" of B, you would normalize both measures and enter a weight of 2 for A and 1 for B. If you estimate that measure A has more relevant information than measure B, you could also enter a greater number of PCA dimension for A than for B. Below, for illustration we elect to cluster on all six allowed activity measures.

TIP: All the measures described below, once computed, can be used for clustering and/or for cluster visualization (see the following section of the tutorial, 'Visualize Component Cluster Information'). If you do not wish to use some of the measures in clustering but still want to be able to visualize it, select it and enter 0 for the PCA dimension. This measure will then be available for cluster visualization although it will not have been used in the clustering process itself. This allows an easy way of performing exploratory clustering on different measure subsets.

  • Spectra: The first checkbox in the middle right of the pre-clustering window (above) allows you to include the log mean power spectrum for each condition in the pre-clustering measures. Clicking on the checkbox allow you to enter power spectral parameters. In this case, a frequency range [lo hi] (in Hz) is required. Note that for clustering purposes (but not for display), for each subject individually, the mean spectral value (averaged across all selected frequencies) is subtracted from all selected components, and the mean spectral value at each frequency (averaged across all selected components) is subtracted from all components. The reason is that some subjects have larger EEG power than others. If we did not subtract the (log) means, clusters might contain components from only one subject, or from one type of subject (e.g., women, who often have thinner skulls and therefore larger EEG than men).
  • ERPs: The second checkbox computes mean ERPs for each condition. Here, an ERP latency window [lo hi] (in ms) is required.
  • Dipole locations: The third checkbox allows you to include component equivalent dipole locations in the pre-clustering process. Dipole locations (shown as [x y z]) automatically have three dimensions (Note: It is not yet possible to cluster on dipole orientations). As mentioned above, the equivalent dipole model for each component and dataset must already have been pre-computed. If one component is modeled using two symmetrical dipoles, pop_preclust.m will use the average location of the two dipoles for clustering purposes (Note: this choice is not optimum).
  • Scalp maps: The fourth checkbox allows you to include scalp map information in the component 'cluster location'. You may choose to use raw component map values, their laplacians, or their spatial gradients. (Note: We have obtained fair results for main components using laplacian scalp maps, though there are still better reasons to use equivalent dipole locations instead of scalp maps. You may also select whether or not to use only the absolute map values, their advantage being that they do not depend on (arbitrary) component map polarity. As explained in the ICA_decomposition.m, ICA component scalp maps themselves have no absolute scalp map polarity.
  • ERSPs and/or ITCs: The last two checkboxes allow including event-related spectral perturbation information in the form of event-related spectral power changes (ERSPs), and event-related phase consistencies (ITCs) for each condition. To compute the ERSP and/or ITC measures, several time/frequency parameters are required. To choose these values, you may enter the relevant timefreq.m keywords and arguments in the text box. You may for instance enter 'alpha', 0.01 for significance masking. See the timefreq.m help message for information about time/frequency parameters to select.
  • Final number of dimensions: An additional checkbox at the bottom allows further reduction of the number of dimensions in the component distance measure used for clustering. Clustering algorithms may not work well with measures having more than 10 to 20 dimensions. For example, if you selected all the options above and retained all their dimensions, the accumulated distance measures would have a total of 53 dimensions. This number may be reduced (e.g., to a default 10) using the PCA decomposition invoked by this option. Note that, since this will distort the cluster location space (projecting it down to its smaller dimensional 'shadow'), it is preferable to use this option carefully. For instance, if you decide to use reduced-dimension scalp maps and dipole locations that together have 13 dimensions (13 = the requested 10 dimensions for the scalp maps plus 3 for the dipole locations), you might experiment with using fewer dimensions for the scalp maps (e.g., 7 instead of 10), in place of the final dimension reduction option (13 to 10).

Finally, the pop_preclust.m gui allows you to choose to save the updated STUDY to disk.

In the pop_preclust.m select all methods and leave all default parameters (including the dipole residual variance filter at the top of the window), then press OK. As explained below, for this tutorial STUDY, measure values are already stored on disk with each dataset, so they need not be recomputed, even if the requested clustering limits (time, frequency, etc.) for these measured are reduced.

Re-using component measures computed during pre-clustering: Computing the spectral, ERP, ERSP, and ITC measures for clustering may, in particular, be time consuming -- requiring up to a few days if there are many components, conditions, and datasets! The time required will naturally depend on the number and size of the datasets and on the speed of the processor. Future EEGLAB releases will implement parallel computing of these measures for cases in which multiple processors are available. Measures previously computed for a given dataset and stored by std_preclust.m will not be recomputed, even if you narrow the time and/or frequency ranges considered. Instead, the computed measure information will be loaded from the respective Matlab files in which it was saved by previous calls to pop_preclust.m.

Measure data files are saved in the same directory/folder as the dataset, and have the same dataset name -- but different filename extensions. For example, component ERSP information for the dataset syn02-S253-clean.set is stored in a file named syn02-S253-clean.icaersp. As mentioned above, for convenience it is recommended that each subject's data be stored in a different directory/folder. If all the possible clustering measures have been computed for this dataset, the following Matlab files should be in the /S02/ dataset directory:

  • syn02-S253-clean.icaerp (ERPs)
  • syn02-S253-clean.icaspec (power spectra)
  • syn02-S253-clean.icatopo (scalp maps)
  • syn02-S253-clean.icaersp (ERSPs)
  • syn02-S253-clean.icaitc (ITCs)

The parameters used to compute each measure are also stored in the file, for example the frequency range of the component spectra. Measure files are standard Matlab files that may be read and processed using standard Matlab commands. The variable names they contain should be self-explanatory.

Note: For ERSP-based clustering, if a parameter setting you have selected is different than the value of the same parameter used to compute and store the same measure previously, a query window will pop up asking you to choose between recomputing the same values using the new parameters or keeping the existing measure values. Again, narrowing the ERSP latency and frequency ranges considered in clustering will not lead to recomputing the ERSP across all datasets.

Finding clusters with PCA (original) method

KEY STEP 4: Computing and visualizing clusters.

Calling the cluster function pop_clust.m, then selecting menu item Study > Cluster components will open the following window.

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Currently, two clustering algorithms are available: 'kmeans' and 'neural network' clustering. As explained earlier, 'kmeans' requires the Matlab Statistics Toolbox, while 'neural network' clustering uses a function from the Matlab Neural Network Toolbox. Note that the default number of clusters (10 in this case) is set so on average there will be one computer per subject per cluster. For example, if about 20 component per subjects are selected based on the residual variance thereshold and the STUDY contains 10 subjects, the average number of cluster will be set to 20 - so each cluster will contains on average 10 components.

Both algorithms require entering a desired number of clusters (first edit box). An option for the kmeans() algorithm can relegate 'outlier' components to a separate cluster. Outlier components are defined as components further than a specified number of standard deviations (3, by default) from any of the cluster centroids. To turn on this option, click the upper checkbox on the left. Identified outlier components will be put into a designated Outliers cluster (Cluster 2). Click on the lower left checkbox to save the clustered studyset to disk. If you do not provide a new filename in the adjacent text box, the existing studyset will be overwritten.

In the pop_clust.m gui, enter 10 for the number of clusters and check the Separate outliers ... checkbox to detect and separate outliers. Then press OK to compute clusters (clustering is usually quick). The cluster editing interface detailed in the next section will automatically pop up. Alternatively, for the sample data, load the provided studyset in which pre-clustering information has already been stored.

Preparing to cluster (Pre-clustering) with Affinity Product Method

In Affinity Product clustering, IC measures, except equiv. dipoles, (ERP, ERSP...) are compared for each IC pair and their dissimilarity is multiplied together to form a combined pairwise dissimilarity matrix. This matrix is then normalized, weighted and added to the normalized and weighted IC equiv. dipole distance matrix. The final dissimilarity matrix is then clustered using affinity clustering method (Fig. below). As you can see this method does not perform any dimensionality reduction on EEG measures (i.e PCA) a it only calculates pairwise (dis)similarities.These similarity matrices (correlations) has to be calculated in the pre-clustering step.


KEY STEP 3: Computing pairwise measures for AP clustering.

Invoke the pre-clustering graphic interface by using menu item Study > Affinity Product clustering -> Build pre-clustering array.
Mpreclust snapshot.png

In the GUI you can select EEG measures for which pre-clustering matrices should be calculated. Use 'Re-Calculate All' option to remove all these matrices before calculating new ones. This might be useful if you have changed the subset of STUDY components to be clustered.

Finding clusters with Affinity Product Method

After the pre-clustering step (above) is finished, you can cluster STUDY components based on any combination of measures included in pre-clustering. The final clustering is performed on the combined pairwise distance matrix using Affinity Propagation algorithm.

KEY STEP 4: Computing clusters.

Invoke the MP clustering graphic interface by using menu item Study > Affinity Product clustering > Cluster Components will open the following window.


Here you can specify the number of clusters and control the effect of equiv. dipole distances in the clustering by setting the 'Relative dipole weight' parameter. For example, by setting this value to 0.8, the final dissimilarity matrix will consist of 80% distance dissimilarity and 20% of other measures combined together.

Please note that the number of returned clusters may slightly (up to 5%) differ from the number requested in the GUI. Also, currently only clustering the parent cluster (containing all components) is supported.

An option for the Affinity Clustering algorithm can relegate 'outlier' components to a separate cluster. Outlier components are defined as components further than a specified number of standard deviations (3, by default) from any of the cluster centroids. To turn on this option, click the lower checkbox on the left. Identified outlier components will be put into a designated Outliers cluster (Cluster 2).

Finding clusters with the Corrmap plugin

Corrmap is a plugin that is included in EEGLAB and that clusters components based on the correlation of their scalp topographies. The documentation for this plugin is available on Stefan Debener web page at

Viewing component clusters

Calling the cluster editing function pop_clustedit.m using menu item Study > Edit > plot clusters will open the following window. Note: The previous menu will also call automatically this window after clustering has finished.

Pop clustedit.gif

Of the 305 components in the sample N400STUDY studyset, dipole model residual variances for 154 components were above 15%. These components were omitted from clustering. The remaining 151 components were clustered on the basis of their dipole locations, power spectra, ERPs, and ERSP measures into 10 component clusters.

Visualizing clusters: Selecting one of the clusters from the list shown in the upper left box displays a list of the cluster components in the text box on the upper right. Here, SO2 IC33 means "independent component 33 for subject SO2," etc. The All 10 cluster centroids option in the (left) text box list will cause the function to display results for all but the ParentCluster and Outlier clusters. Selecting one of the plotting options below (left) will then show all 10 cluster centroids in a single figure. For example, pressing the Plot scalp maps option will produce the figure below:

Cls plotclustmap1.gif

In computing the mean cluster scalp maps (or scalp map centroids), the polarity of each of the cluster's component maps was first adjusted so as to correlate positively with the cluster mean (recall that component maps have no absolute polarity). Then the map variances were equated. Finally, the normalized means were computed.

To see individual component scalp maps for components in the cluster, select the cluster of interest in the left column (for example, Cluster 8 as in the figure above Then press the Plot scalp maps option in the left column. The following figure will appear. (Note: Your Cluster 8 scalp map may differ after you have recomputed the clusters for the sample STUDY).

Cls plotclustmap2.gif

To see the relationship between one of the cluster centroid maps and the maps of individual components in the cluster, select the cluster of interest (for instance Cluster 8), and press the Plot scalp maps option in the right pop_clustedit.m column.

Note: Channels missing from any of the datasets do not affect clustering or visualization of cluster scalp maps. Component scalp maps are interpolated by the toporeplot.m function, avoiding the need to restrict STUDY datasets to a common 'always clean' channel subset or to perform 'missing channel' interpolation on individual datasets.

Cls plotclustmap3.gif

You may also plot scalp maps for individual components in the cluster by selecting components in the right column and then pressing Plot scalp maps (not shown).

A good way to visualize all the average cluster measures at once is to first select a cluster of interest from the cluster list on the left (e.g., 'Cluster 8'), and then press the Plot cluster properties push button. The left figure below presents the Cluster-8 mean scalp map (same for both conditions), average ERP and spectrum (for these, the two conditions are plotted in different colors), average ERSP and ITC (grand means for both conditions; the individual conditions may be plotted using the Plot cluster properties push button). The 3-D plot on the bottom left presents the locations of the centroid dipole (red) and individual component equivalent dipoles (blue) for this cluster.

Cls plotclust.gif

To quickly recognize the nature of component clusters by their activity features requires experience. Here Cluster 8 accounts for some right occipital alpha activity -- note the strong 10-Hz peak in the activity spectra. The cluster ERPs show a very slow (1-Hz) pattern peaking at the appearance of first words of the word pairs (near time -1 s). The apparent latency shift in this slow wave activity between the two conditions may or may not be significant. A positive (though still quite low, 0.06) ITC follows the appearance of the first word in each word pair (see Experimental Design), indicating that quite weakly phase-consistent theta-band EEG activity follows first word onsets. Finally, blocking of spectral power from 7 Hz to at least 25 Hz appears just after onset of the second words of word pairs (at time 0) in the grand mean ERSP plot (blue region on top right)

To review all 'Cluster 8' component dipole locations, press the Plot dipoles button in the left column. This will open the plot viewer showing all the cluster component dipoles (in blue), plus the cluster mean dipole location (in red). You may scroll through the dipoles one by one, rotating the plot in 3-D or selecting among the three cardinal views (lower left buttons), etc. Information about them will be presented in the left center side bar (see the image below).

Cls plotclustdip.gif

As for the scalp maps, the pop_clustedit.m gui will separately plot the cluster ERPs, spectra, ERSPs or ITCs. Let us review once more the different plotting options for the data spectrum. Pressing the Plot spectra button in the left column will open a figure showing the two mean condition spectra below.

Cls plotclustspec1.gif

Pressing the Plot spectra button in the right column with All components selected in the left column will open a figure displaying for each condition all cluster component spectra plus (in bold) their mean.

Cls plotclustspec2.gif

Finally, to plot the condition spectra for individual cluster components, select one component from the Select component(s) to plot list on the right and press Plot spectra in the right column. For example, selecting component 37 from subject S02 (SO2 IC37) will pop up the figure below. Here, the single component spectra are shown in light blue as well as the mean cluster spectrum (in black).

Cls plotclustspec3.gif

Editing clusters

The results of clustering (by either the 'k-means' or 'Neural network' methods) can also be updated manually in the preview cluster viewing and editing window (called from menu item Study > Edit/plot clusters). These editing options allow flexibility for adjusting the clustering. Components can be reassigned to different clusters, clusters can be merged, new clusters can be created, and 'outlier' components can be rejected from a cluster. Note that if you make changes via the pop_clustedit.m gui, then wish to cancel these changes, pressing the Cancel button will cause the STUDY changes to be forgotten.

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Renaming a cluster: The Rename selected cluster option allows you to rename any cluster using a (mnemonic) name of your choice. Pressing this option button opens a pop-up window asking for the new name of the selected cluster. For instance, if you think a cluster contains components accounting for eye blinks you may rename it "Blinks".

Automatically rejecting outlier components: Another editing option is to reject 'outlier' components from a cluster after clustering. An 'outlier' can be defined as a component whose cluster location is more than a given number of standard deviations from the location of the cluster centroid. Note that standard deviation and cluster mean values are defined from the N-dimensional clustering space data created during the pre-clustering process.

For example, if the size of the pre-clustering cluster location matrix is 10 by 200 (for 200 components), then N = 10. The default threshold for outlier rejection is 3 standard deviations. To reject 'outlier' components from a cluster, first select the cluster of interest from the list on the left and then press the Auto-reject outlier components option button. A window will open, asking you to set the outlier threshold. 'Outlier' components selected via either the 'eject outlier components option or the Remove selected outlier component(s) option (below) are moved from the current cluster '[Name]' to a cluster named 'Outlier [Name]'.

Removing selected outlier components manually: Another way to remove 'outlier' components from a cluster is to do so manually. This option allows you to de-select seeming 'outlier' components irrespective of their distance from the cluster mean. To manually reject components, first select the cluster of interest from the list on the left, then select the desired 'outlier' component(s) from the component list on the right, then press the Remove selected outlier comps. button. A confirmation window will pop up.

Creating a new cluster: To create a new empty cluster, press the Create new cluster option, this opens a pop-up window asking for a name for the new cluster. If no name is given, the default name is 'Cls #', where '#' is the next available cluster number. For changes to take place, press the OK button in the pop-up window. The new empty cluster will appear as one of the clusters in the list on the left of the editing/viewing cluster window.

Reassigning components to clusters: To move components between any two clusters, first select the origin cluster from the list on the left, then select the components of interest from the component list on the right, and press the Reassign selected component(s) option button. Select the target cluster from the list of available clusters.

Saving changes: As with other pop_ functions, you can save the updated STUDY set to disk, either overwriting the current version - by leaving the default file name in the text box - or by entering a new file name.

Hierarchic sub-clustering (PCA method only)

The clustering tools also allow you to perform hierarchic sub-clustering. For example, imagine clustering all the components from all the datasets in the current STUDY (i.e., the Parent Cluster) into two clusters. One cluster turn out to contain only artifactual non-EEG components (which you thus rename the 'Artifact' cluster) while the other contains non-artifactual EEG components (thus renamed 'Non-artifact').

NOTE: This is only a quite schematic example for tutorial purposes: It may normally not be possible to separate all non-brain artifact components from cortical non-artifact components by clustering all components into only two clusters -- there are too many kinds of scalp maps and artifact activities associated with the various classes of artifacts!

Cluster img3.gif

At this point, we might try further clustering only the 'Artifact' cluster components, e.g., attempting to separate eye movement processes from heart and muscle activity processes, or etc. A schematic of a possible (but probably again not realistic) further decomposition is shown schematically above.

In this case, the parent of the identified eye movement artifact cluster is the 'Artifact' cluster; the child cluster of 'eye' artifacts itself has no child clusters. On the other hand, clustering the 'Non-artifact' cluster produces three child clusters which, presumably after careful inspection, we decide to rename 'Alpha', 'Mu' and 'Other'.

To refine a clustering in this way, simply follow the same sequence of event as described above. Call the pre-clustering tools using menu item Study > Build preclustering array. You may now select a cluster to refine. In the example above, we notice that there seem to be components with different spectra in Cluster 8, so let us try to refine the clustering based on differences among the Cluster-8 component spectra.

Pop preclust1.jpg

Select the Study > Cluster components menu item. Leave all the defaults (e.g., 2 clusters) and press OK.

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The visualization window will then pop up with two new clusters under Cluster 8.

Pop clustedit2.gif]

Below the component spectra for Cluster 13 are plotted. Note that Cluster-13 components have relatively uniform spectra.

Cls plotclustspec4.gif]

You may also plot the scalp map of Cluster 13. All the cluster components account for occipital activity and have similarly located equivalent dipole sources.

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Clustering and study design

When pre-clustering ICA components, the current is taken into account. For example, if you have two conditions per subject and both conditions share the same set of ICA components, then during preclustering, when computing the component distance measure used for clustering, data measures from both conditions are concatenated. For example, when using the mean power spectrum to cluster components, instead of having say 50 spectral values (one per frequency) for each component, during preclustering 100 values (two sets of 50 frequencies, one for each condition) will be placed one after the other. EEGLAB will not allow you to cluster components using a STUDY design that does not include all STUDY data sets and all ICA components. Once your components are clustered, it is possible to reduce the size of your STUDY design (see below). However, if the design you are using when preclustering your data does not include all datasets, it would not be possible to include them in another design later on. To precluster, therefore we advise using the simplest STUDY design possible. Often, this is the one that is most natural for the experiment. An exception would be a case when, for example, your experiment uses a 2x2 design, but you decide to include a fifth condition for exploratory purposes. In this case an initial 5x1 design should be used during preclustering. For the main analysis, a 2x2 STUDY design (involving only 4 or the 5 conditions) can be created, along with, perhaps, another 2x1 design to compare the fifth condition (not included in the 2x2) versus one of the others.

Note: If you are using anatomical component information only (scalp topographies and/or equivalent dipoles) and no other measures to cluster components, then the STUDY design does not impact the clustering solution.

After clustering, since all ICA components are included in the clustering, ICA clusters are constant for all conditions and STUDY designs. Once ICA components are clustered, it is possible to compute differences between conditions using any STUDY design. Whenever you select a different design, ICA components are assigned to the conditions in the design according to your design as per the clustering solution. For example, if you have only one ICA decomposition per subject and a 2x1 design (2 conditions, 1 subject group, collected in 1 session), then both conditions share the same components.

Comparing activities of ICA components between conditions is like comparing activities in different electrode channels. Comparing the activities of a cluster of components between conditions could be seen as similar to comparing the activity of an individually assigned electrode channel for each subject (for instance, a channel to which some measure projects most strongly). Remember that ICA components and electrode channels are both spatial filters. Each electrode channel gives the arithmetic difference between the potential reaching some scalp electrode and the potential reaching a reference electrode (or the mean of the potentials reaching the set of reference electrodes). Each ICA component gives the arithmetic weighted sum/difference of the signals reaching each of the electrodes. Here the negatively weighted electrode signals can be said to serve the role of the reference channel (although this channel combination will typically be different for each component).

For STUDY designs in which component activities of two subject groups are to be compared, the computed measure differences will be between components for each group within each cluster.

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Tutorial Outline
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