A Statistical Approach to the Inverse Problem in Magnetoencephalography

Publication Date

January, 2014

Publication Type

Tech Report


Zhigang Yao and William F. Eddy


Magnetoencephalography (MEG) is an imaging technique used to measure the magnetic field outside the human head produced by the electrical activity inside the brain. The MEG inverse problem, identifying the location of the electrical sources from the magnetic signal measurements, is ill-posed; that is, there are an infinite number of mathematically correct solutions. Common source localization methods assume the source does not vary with time and do not provide estimates of the variability of the fitted model. Here, we reformulate the MEG inverse problem by considering time-varying locations for the sources and their electrical moments and we model their time evolution using a state space model. Based on our predictive model, we investigate the inverse problem by finding the posterior source distribution given the multiple channels of observations at each time rather than fitting fixed source parameters. Our new model is more realistic than common models and allows us to estimate the variation of the strength, orientation and position. We propose two new Monte Carlo methods based on sequential importance sampling. Unlike the usual MCMC sampling scheme, our new methods work in this situation without needing to tune a high-dimensional transition kernel which has a very high cost. The dimensionality of the unknown parameters is extremely large and the size of the data is even larger. We use Parallel Virtual Machine (PVM) to speed up the computation.