Using Convolutional Neural Networks to Automatically Detect Eye-Blink Artifacts in Magnetoencephalography Without Resorting to Electrooculography

  • Prabhat Garg
  • Elizabeth Davenport
  • Gowtham Murugesan
  • Ben Wagner
  • Christopher Whitlow
  • Joseph Maldjian
  • Albert MontilloEmail author
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 10435)


Magnetoencephelography (MEG) is a functional neuroimaging tool that records the magnetic fields induced by neuronal activity; however, signal from muscle activity often corrupts the data. Eye-blinks are one of the most common types of muscle artifact. They can be recorded by affixing eye proximal electrodes, as in electrooculography (EOG), however this complicates patient preparation and decreases comfort. Moreover, it can induce further muscular artifacts from facial twitching. We propose an EOG free, data driven approach. We begin with Independent Component Analysis (ICA), a well-known preprocessing approach that factors observed signal into statistically independent components. When applied to MEG, ICA can help separate neuronal components from non-neuronal ones, however, the components are randomly ordered. Thus, we develop a method to assign one of two labels, non-eye-blink or eye-blink, to each component.

Our contributions are two-fold. First, we develop a 10-layer Convolutional Neural Network (CNN), which directly labels eye-blink artifacts. Second, we visualize the learned spatial features using attention mapping, to reveal what it has learned and bolster confidence in the method’s ability to generalize to unseen data. We acquired 8-min, eyes open, resting state MEG from 44 subjects. We trained our method on the spatial maps from ICA of 14 subjects selected randomly with expertly labeled ground truth. We then tested on the remaining 30 subjects. Our approach achieves a test classification accuracy of 99.67%, sensitivity: 97.62%, specificity: 99.77%, and ROC AUC: 98.69%. We also show the learned spatial features correspond to those human experts typically use which corroborates our model’s validity. This work (1) facilitates creation of fully automated processing pipelines in MEG that need to remove motion artifacts related to eye blinks, and (2) potentially obviates the use of additional EOG electrodes for the recording of eye-blinks in MEG studies.


MEG Eye-Blink Artifact EOG Automatic Deep learning CNN 



The authors would like to thank Jillian Urban, Mireille Kelley, Derek Jones, and Joel Stitzel for their assistance in providing recruitment and study oversight. Support for this research was provided by NIH grant R01NS082453 (JAM, JDS), R03NS088125 (JAM), and R01NS091602 (CW, JAM, JDS).


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Prabhat Garg
    • 1
  • Elizabeth Davenport
    • 1
  • Gowtham Murugesan
    • 1
  • Ben Wagner
    • 1
  • Christopher Whitlow
    • 2
  • Joseph Maldjian
    • 1
  • Albert Montillo
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.UT Southwestern Medical CenterDallasUSA
  2. 2.Wake Forest School of MedicineWinston-SalemUSA

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