A guide for applying principal-components analysis and confirmatory factor analysis to quantitative electroencephalogram data

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Principal-components analysis (PCA) has been used in quantitative electroencephalogram (qEEG) research to statistically reduce the dimensionality of the original qEEG measures to a smaller set of theoretically meaningful component variables. However, PCAs involving qEEG have frequently been performed with small sample sizes, producing solutions that are highly unstable. Moreover, solutions have not been independently confirmed using an independent sample and the more rigorous confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) procedure. This paper was intended to illustrate, by way of example, the process of applying PCA and CFA to qEEG data. Explicit decision rules pertaining to the application of PCA and CFA to qEEG are discussed. In the first of two experiments, PCAs were performed on qEEG measures collected from 102 healthy individuals as they performed an auditory continuous performance task. Component solutions were then validated in an independent sample of 106 healthy individuals using the CFA procedure. The results of this experiment confirmed the validity of an oblique, seven component solution. Measures of internal consistency and test-retest reliability for the seven component solution were high. These results support the use of qEEG data as a stable and valid measure of neurophysiological functioning. As measures of these neurophysiological processes are easily derived, they may prove useful in discriminating between and among clinical (neurological) and control populations. Future research directions are highlighted.

Publication Title

International Journal of Psychophysiology