A theoretical formulation of the electrophysiological inverse problem on the sphere

Jorge J. Riera, Pedro A. Valdés, Kunio Tanabe, Ryuta Kawashima

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7 Citations (Scopus)


The construction of three-dimensional images of the primary current density (PCD) produced by neuronal activity is a problem of great current interest in the neuroimaging community, though being initially formulated in the 1970s. There exist even now enthusiastic debates about the authenticity of most of the inverse solutions proposed in the literature, in which low resolution electrical tomography (LORETA) is a focus of attention. However, in our opinion, the capabilities and limitations of the electro and magneto encephalographic techniques to determine PCD configurations have not been extensively explored from a theoretical framework, even for simple volume conductor models of the head. In this paper, the electrophysiological inverse problem for the spherical head model is cast in terms of reproducing kernel Hilbert spaces (RKHS) formalism, which allows us to identify the null spaces of the implicated linear integral operators and also to define their representers. The PCD are described in terms of a continuous basis for the RKHS, which explicitly separates the harmonic and non-harmonic components. The RKHS concept permits us to bring LORETA into the scope of the general smoothing splines theory. A particular way of calculating the general smoothing splines is illustrated, avoiding a brute force discretization prematurely. The Bayes information criterion is used to handle dissimilarities in the signal/noise ratios and physical dimensions of the measurement modalities, which could affect the estimation of the amount of smoothness required for that class of inverse solution to be well specified. In order to validate the proposed method, we have estimated the 3D spherical smoothing splines from two data sets: electric potentials obtained from a skull phantom and magnetic fields recorded from subjects performing an experiment of human faces recognition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1737-1758
Number of pages22
JournalPhysics in Medicine and Biology
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2006 Apr 7


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