An Investigation on the Utility and Reliability of Electroencephalogram Phase Signal Upon Interpreting Cognitive Responses in the Brain: A Critical Discussion

Document Type: Original Articles


Department of Computer Science and Engineering and Information Technology, School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Shiraz University


Within the neuroscience and computational neuroscience communities, applications such as evaluating different cognitive responses of the brain, brain-computer interface (BCI) systems and brain connectivity studies have increasingly been using EEG phase information during the past few decades. The utility of EEG phase can be directly linked to the neural propagation and synchronized firing of neuronal populations during different cognitive states of the brain. Nevertheless, it has previously been shown that phase of narrow-band (frequency specific) foreground EEG (desired) is prone to contain fake spikes and variations (unrelated to brain activity) in the presence of background spontaneous EEG and low SNRs of foreground EEG (the low-amplitude analytic signals or LAAS problem). Accordingly, extracting the instantaneous EEG phase sequence for further utilization upon interpreting the cognitive states of the brain using phase related quantities, such as instantaneous frequency, phase shift, phase resetting and phase locking value, is a very sensitive and rigorous process. In this study, a simple procedure is proposed to illustrate the effects of LAAS problem on the utility of EEG phase related quantities in aforementioned applications, also to investigate the reliability of interpretations of the brain’s cognitive states based on such quantities. Results show that, without a proper and effective solution strategy, such potential flaws lead to incorrect physiological and pathological interpretations.


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