Investigating the temporal dynamics of electroencephalogram (EEG) microstates using recurrent neural networks.

Sikka, Apoorva; Jamalabadi, Hamidreza; Krylova, Marina; Alizadeh, Sarah; van der Meer, Johan N; Danyeli, Lena; Deliano, Matthias; Vicheva, Petya; Hahn, Tim; König, Thomas; Bathula, Deepti R; Walter, Martin (2020). Investigating the temporal dynamics of electroencephalogram (EEG) microstates using recurrent neural networks. Human brain mapping, 41(9), pp. 2334-2346. Wiley-Blackwell 10.1002/hbm.24949

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Electroencephalogram (EEG) microstates that represent quasi-stable, global neuronal activity are considered as the building blocks of brain dynamics. Therefore, the analysis of microstate sequences is a promising approach to understand fast brain dynamics that underlie various mental processes. Recent studies suggest that EEG microstate sequences are non-Markovian and nonstationary, highlighting the importance of the sequential flow of information between different brain states. These findings inspired us to model these sequences using Recurrent Neural Networks (RNNs) consisting of long-short-term-memory (LSTM) units to capture the complex temporal dependencies. Using an LSTM-based auto encoder framework and different encoding schemes, we modeled the microstate sequences at multiple time scales (200-2,000 ms) aiming to capture stably recurring microstate patterns within and across subjects. We show that RNNs can learn underlying microstate patterns with high accuracy and that the microstate trajectories are subject invariant at shorter time scales (≤400 ms) and reproducible across sessions. Significant drop in the reconstruction accuracy was observed for longer sequence lengths of 2,000 ms. These findings indirectly corroborate earlier studies which indicated that EEG microstate sequences exhibit long-range dependencies with finite memory content. Furthermore, we find that the latent representations learned by the RNNs are sensitive to external stimulation such as stress while the conventional univariate microstate measures (e.g., occurrence, mean duration, etc.) fail to capture such changes in brain dynamics. While RNNs cannot be configured to identify the specific discriminating patterns, they have the potential for learning the underlying temporal dynamics and are sensitive to sequence aberrations characterized by changes in metal processes. Empowered with the macroscopic understanding of the temporal dynamics that extends beyond short-term interactions, RNNs offer a reliable alternative for exploring system level brain dynamics using EEG microstate sequences.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > University Psychiatric Services > University Hospital of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy > Translational Research Center

UniBE Contributor:

König, Thomas


500 Science > 570 Life sciences; biology








Thomas König

Date Deposited:

11 Aug 2020 16:57

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 15:39

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

EEG microstates recurrent neural networks stress




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