Improving J-divergence of brain connectivity states by graph Laplacian denoising

Functional connectivity (FC) can be represented as a network, and is frequently used to better understand the neural underpinnings of complex tasks such as motor imagery (MI) detection in brain-computer interfaces (BCIs). However, errors in the estimation of connectivity can affect the detection performances. In this work, we address the problem of denoising common connectivity estimates to improve the detectability of different connectivity states. Specifically, we propose a denoising algorithm that acts on the network graph Laplacian, which leverages recent graph signal processing results. Further, we derive a novel formulation of the Jensen divergence for the denoised Laplacian under different states. Numerical simulations on synthetic data show that the denoising method improves the Jensen divergence of connectivity patterns corresponding to different task conditions. Furthermore, we apply the Laplacian denoising technique to brain networks estimated from real EEG data recorded during MI-BCI experiments. Using our novel formulation of the J-divergence, we are able to quantify the distance between the FC networks in the motor imagery and resting states, as well as to understand the contribution of each Laplacian variable to the total J-divergence between two states. Experimental results on real MI-BCI EEG data demonstrate that the Laplacian denoising improves the separation of motor imagery and resting mental states, and shortens the time interval required for connectivity estimation. We conclude that the approach shows promise for the robust detection of connectivity states while being appealing for implementation in real-time BCI applications.

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