How to evaluate phase differences between trial groups in ongoing electrophysiological signals

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Rufin VanRullen

Abstract

A growing number of studies endeavor to reveal periodicities in sensory and cognitive functions, by comparing the distribution of ongoing (pre-stimulus) oscillatory phases between two (or more) trial groups reflecting distinct experimental outcomes. A systematic relation between the phase of spontaneous electrophysiological signals, before a stimulus is even presented, and the eventual result of sensory or cognitive processing for that stimulus, would be indicative of an intrinsic periodicity in the underlying neural process. Prior studies of phase-dependent perception have used a variety of analytical methods to measure and evaluate phase differences, and there is currently no established standard practice in this field. The present report intends to remediate this need, by systematically comparing the statistical power of various measures of "phase opposition" between two trial groups, in a number of real and simulated experimental situations. Seven measures were evaluated: one parametric test (circular Watson-Williams test), and three distinct measures of phase opposition (phase bifurcation index, phase opposition sum and phase opposition product) combined with two procedures for non-parametric statistical testing (permutati...Continue Reading

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