Event Abstract

Analyzing possible pitfalls of cross-frequency analysis

  • 1 Max-Planck Institute for Brain Research, Germany
  • 2 MEG Unit, Brain Imaging Center, Goethe University, Germany
  • 3 Institute of Cognitive Science, University of Osnabrueck, Germany
  • 4 Faculty of Medicine, Paris Descartes University, France

One of the central questions in neuroscience is how neural activity is organized across different spatial and temporal scales. As large neuronal populations oscillate and synchronize at lower frequencies and smaller ensembles are active at higher frequencies, cross-frequency interactions would facilitate flexible coordination of neural activity simultaneously in time and space. We suggest that although the mechanism of cross-frequency-coupling (CFC) is theoretically very tempting, the current analysis methods might overestimate any physiological CFC actually evident in the signals of LFP, ECoG, EEG and MEG. In particular, we point out three conceptual problems in assessing CFC as measured by current methodologies. We used numerical and saline experiments to confirm our hypotheses. The first conceptual problem we investigate is related to isolating physiological frequency components of the recorded signal. We discuss clear cut examples where the interpretation of the existence of CFC depends on the width of the filtering process. Secondly, we deal with the origin of spectral correlations. It is known that non-stationarities are associated with spectral correlations in the Fourier space, and therefore only with a careful study of the origin of the non-stationarities in the system can one support a physiological role to any observed CFC. Finally, we investigate the role of non-linearities as generators of CFC and experimentally test that certain non-linearities present in electrophysiological setups can enhance CFC. In summary, we point out some possible pitfalls and ambiguities of cross frequency coupling analysis and its interpretation, and we list some conditions which verification could strength the evidence of physiological CFC.

Keywords: brain oscillations, CFC

Conference: XI International Conference on Cognitive Neuroscience (ICON XI), Palma, Mallorca, Spain, 25 Sep - 29 Sep, 2011.

Presentation Type: Poster Presentation

Topic: Poster Sessions: Quantitative Analysis of EEG, MEG & Brain Oscillations

Citation: Vicente R, Aru J, Wibral M, Priessemann V, Pipa G, Singer W and Aru J (2011). Analyzing possible pitfalls of cross-frequency analysis. Front. Hum. Neurosci. Conference Abstract: XI International Conference on Cognitive Neuroscience (ICON XI). doi: 10.3389/conf.fnhum.2011.207.00134

Received: 17 Nov 2011; Published Online: 28 Nov 2011.

* Correspondence: Dr. Raul Vicente, Max-Planck Institute for Brain Research, Frankfurt, Germany, raulvicente@gmail.com

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