Single-trial ERP component analysis using a spatiotemporal LCMV beamformer

Marijn Van Vliet*, Nikolay Chumerin, Simon De Deyne, Jan Roelf Wiersema, Wim Fias, Gerrit Storms, Marc M. Van Hulle

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)
88 Downloads (Pure)


Goal: For statistical analysis of event-related potentials (ERPs), there are convincing arguments against averaging across stimuli or subjects. Multivariate filters can be used to isolate an ERP component of interest without the averaging procedure. However, we would like to have certainty that the output of the filter accurately represents the component. Methods: We extended the linearly constrained minimum variance (LCMV) beamformer, which is traditionally used as a spatial filter for source localization, to be a flexible spatiotemporal filter for estimating the amplitude of ERP components in sensor space. In a comparison study on both simulated and real data, we demonstrated the strengths and weaknesses of the beamformer as well as a range of supervised learning approaches. Results: In the context of measuring the amplitude of a specific ERP component on a single-trial basis, we found that the spatiotemporal LCMV beamformer is a filter that accurately captures the component of interest, even in the presence of both structured noise (e.g., other overlapping ERP components) and unstructured noise (e.g., ongoing brain activity and sensor noise). Conclusion: The spatiotemporal LCMV beamformer method provides an accurate and intuitive way to conduct analysis of a known ERP component, without averaging across trials or subjects. Significance: Eliminating averaging allows us to test more detailed hypotheses and apply more powerful statistical models. For example, it allows the usage of multilevel regression models that can incorporate between subject/stimulus variation as random effects, test multiple effects simultaneously, and control confounding effects by partial regression.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2468588
Pages (from-to)55-66
Number of pages12
JournalIEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Beamformer
  • Brain models
  • Electroencephalography
  • Event-related potentials
  • Multivariate analysis


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