Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Big Data Patterns

Big data from combined EEG studies highlights different activity across different brain areas

27 March 2020

Big Data Patterns

Trendy ‘big data’ seems to be everywhere – and is now helping us to better understand how the brain works. A team of scientists set out to test whether ‘big data’ approaches could be used with the electroencephalogram (EEG), a tool that records brain electrical activity. Unlike meta-analyses that combine studies’ reported results, the team’s approach was to compile raw data from 18 experiments that recorded EEG signals when people performed different tasks, from driving to visual search. Accounting for variations across studies such as the type of task participants undertook and the different EEG electrodes used, they were able to create an aggregated map of brain-wave activity, shown here with different colours representing different wave frequencies. In future, scientists may be able to use this ‘big data’ approach to discover patterns in brain activity that can’t always be seen in an individual study with only a few participants.

Written by Gaëlle Coullon

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