Electroencephalography (EEG) is commonly used to examine neural activity time-locked to the presentation of a stimulus, referred to as an Event-Related Potential (ERP). However, EEG is also influenced by non-neural artifacts, which can confound ERP comparisons. Artifact cleaning can reduce artifacts, but often requires time-consuming manual decisions. Most automated cleaning methods require frequencies <1Hz to be filtered out of the data, so are not recommended for ERPs (which often contain <1Hz frequencies). In our companion article, we introduced RELAX (the Reduction of Electroencephalographic Artifacts), an automated and modular cleaning pipeline that reduces artifacts with Multiple Wiener Filtering (MWF) and/or wavelet enhanced independent component analysis (wICA) applied to artifact components detected with ICLabel (wICA_ICLabel) (Bailey et al., 2022). To evaluate the suitability of RELAX for data cleaning prior to ERP analysis, multiple versions of RELAX were compared to four commonly used EEG cleaning pipelines. Cleaning performance was compared across a range of artifact cleaning metrics and in the amount of variance in ERPs explained by different conditions in a Go-Nogo task. RELAX with MWF and wICA_ICLabel cleaned the data the most effectively and produced amongst the most dependable ERP estimates. RELAX with wICA_ICLabel only or MWF_only may detect experimental effects better for some ERP measures. Importantly, RELAX can high-pass filter data at 0.25Hz, so is applicable to analyses involving ERPs. The pipeline is easy to implement via EEGLAB in MATLAB and is freely available on GitHub. Given its performance, objectivity, and ease of use, we recommend RELAX for EEG data cleaning. The MATLAB code, the supplementary materials, and a simple instruction manual explaining how to implement the RELAX pipeline can be downloaded from https://github.com/NeilwBailey/RELAX/releases. A condition of use of the pipeline is that the version of the pipeline used is referred to as RELAX_[pipeline], for example “RELAX_MWF_wICA” or “RELAX_wICA_ICLabel”, and that the current paper be cited, as well as the dependencies used. These dependencies are likely to include: EEGLAB (Delorme & Makeig, 2004), fieldtrip (Oostenveld et al., 2011), the MWF toolbox (Somers et al., 2019), fastICA (Hyvarinen, 1999), wICA (Castellanos & Makarov, 2006), ICLabel (Pion-Tonachini et al., 2019), and PREP (Bigdely-Shamlo et al., 2015) See our companion article for the application of RELAX to the study of oscillatory power (Bailey et al., 2022).
N. Bailey, A. Hill, M. Biabani