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Independent component analysis (ICA) is typically applied on functional magnetic resonance imaging, electroencephalographic and magnetoencephalographic (MEG) data due to its data-driven nature. In these applications, ICA needs to be extended from single to multi-session and multi-subject studies for interpreting and assigning a statistical significance at the group level. Here a novel strategy for analyzing MEG independent components (ICs) is presented, Multivariate Algorithm for Grouping MEG Independent Components K-means based (MAGMICK). The proposed approach is able to capture spatio-temporal dynamics of brain activity in MEG studies by running ICA at subject level and then clustering the ICs across sessions and subjects. Distinctive features of MAGMICK are: i) the implementation of an efficient set of "MEG fingerprints" designed to summarize properties of MEG ICs as they are built on spatial, temporal and spectral parameters; ii) the implementation of a modified version of the standard K-means procedure to improve its data-driven character. This algorithm groups the obtained ICs automatically estimating the number of clusters through an adaptive weighting of the parameters and a constraint on the ICs independence, i.e. components coming from the same session (at subject level) or subject (at group level) cannot be grouped together. The performances of MAGMICK are illustrated by analyzing two sets of MEG data obtained during a finger tapping task and median nerve stimulation. The results demonstrate that the method can extract consistent patterns of spatial topography and spectral properties across sessions and subjects that are in good agreement with the literature. In addition, these results are compared to those from a modified version of affinity propagation clustering method. The comparison, evaluated in terms of different clustering validity indices, shows that our methodology often outperforms the clustering algorithm. Eventually, these results are confirmed by a comparison with a MEG tailored version of the self-organizing group ICA, which is largely used for fMRI IC clustering.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





1912 - 1923


Algorithms, Brain, Brain Mapping, Cluster Analysis, Humans, Magnetoencephalography, Signal Processing, Computer-Assisted