The curtain of technical limitations impeding rat multichannel non-invasive electroencephalography (EEG) has risen. Given the importance of this preclinical model, development and validation of EEG source imaging (ESI) is essential. We investigate the validity of well-known human ESI methodologies in rats which individual tissue geometries have been approximated by those extracted from an MRI template, leading also to imprecision in electrode localizations. With the half and fifth sensitivity volumes we determine both the theoretical minimum electrode separation for non-redundant scalp EEG measurements and the electrode sensitivity resolution, which vary over the scalp because of the head geometry. According to our results, electrodes should be at least ~3 to 3.5 mm apart for an optimal configuration. The sensitivity resolution is generally worse for electrodes at the boundaries of the scalp measured region, though, by analogy with human montages, concentrates the sensitivity enough to localize sources. Cramér–Rao lower bounds of source localization errors indicate it is theoretically possible to achieve ESI accuracy at the level of anatomical structures, such as the stimulus-specific somatosensory areas, using the template. More validation for this approximation is provided through the comparison between the template and the individual lead field matrices, for several rats. Finally, using well-accepted inverse methods, we demonstrate that somatosensory ESI is not only expected but also allows exploring unknown phenomena related to global sensory integration. Inheriting the advantages and pitfalls of human ESI, rat ESI will boost the understanding of brain pathophysiological mechanisms and the evaluation of ESI methodologies, new pharmacological treatments and ESI-based biomarkers.
ASJC Scopus subject areas