PMU-Autor/inn/enButz Kevin Holger Gerd
Measures of interaction (connectivity) of the EEG are at the forefront of current neuroscientific research. Unfortunately, test-retest reliability can be very low, depending on the measure and its estimation, the EEG-frequency of interest, the length of the signal, and the population under investigation. In addition, artifacts can hamper the continuity of the EEG signal, and in some clinical situations it is impractical to exclude artifacts. We aimed to examine factors that moderate test-retest reliability of measures of interaction. The study involved 40 patients with a range of neurological diseases and memory impairments (age median: 60; range 21-76; 40% female; 22 mild cognitive impairment, 5 subjective cognitive complaints, 13 temporal lobe epilepsy), and 20 healthy controls (age median: 61.5; range 23-74; 70% female). We calculated 14 measures of interaction based on the multivariate autoregressive model from two EEG-recordings separated by 2 weeks. We characterized test-retest reliability by correlating themeasures between the two EEG-recordings for variations of data length, data discontinuity, artifact exclusion, model order, and frequency over all combinations of channels and all frequencies, individually for each subject, yielding a correlation coefficient for each participant. Excluding artifacts had strong effects on reliability of some measures, such as classical, real valued coherence (similar to 0.1 before, similar to 0.9 after artifact exclusion). Full frequency directed transfer function was highly reliable and robust against artifacts. Variation of data length decreased reliability in relation to poor adjustment of model order and signal length. Variation of discontinuity had no effect, but reliabilities were different between model orders, frequency ranges, and patient groups depending on the measure. Pathology did not interact with variation of signal length or discontinuity. Our results emphasize the importance of documenting reliability, whichmay vary considerably between measures of interaction. We recommend careful selection of measures of interaction in accordance with the properties of the data. When only short data segments are available and when the signal length varies strongly across subjects after exclusion of artifacts, reliability becomes an issue. Finally, measures which show high reliability irrespective of the presence of artifacts could be extremely useful in clinical situations when exclusion of artifacts is impractical.
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