Internally and externally triggered sensory, motor and cognitive events elicit a number of transient changes in the ongoing electroencephalogram (EEG): event-related brain potentials (ERPs), event-related synchronization and desynchronization (ERS/ERD), and event-related phase resetting (ERPR). To increase the signal-to-noise ratio of event-related brain responses, most studies rely on across-trial averaging in the time domain, a procedure that is, however, blind to a significant fraction of the elicited cortical activity. Here, we outline the key concepts underlying the limitations of time-domain averaging and consider three alternative methodological approaches that have received increasing interest: time-frequency decomposition of the EEG (using the continuous wavelet transform), blind source separation of the EEG (using Independent Component Analysis) and the analysis of event-related brain responses at the level of single trials. In addition, we provide practical guidelines on the implementation of these methods and on the interpretation of the results they produce. © 2008 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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