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Brain Topogr. 2010 Sep;23(3):233-42. doi: 10.1007/s10548-010-0142-1. Epub 2010 Apr 8.

A method to determine the presence of averaged event-related fields using randomization tests.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatric Neurophysiology, University Hospital of Psychiatry, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland.


We present a simple and effective method to test whether an event consistently activates a set of brain electric sources across repeated measurements of event-related scalp field data. These repeated measurements can be single trials, single subject ERPs, or ERPs from different studies. The method considers all sensors simultaneously, but can be applied separately to each time frame or frequency band of the data. This allows limiting the analysis to time periods and frequency bands where there is positive evidence of a consistent relation between the event and some brain electric sources. The test may therefore avoid false conclusions about the data resulting from an inadequate selection of the analysis window and bandpass filter, and permit the exploration of alternate hypotheses when group/condition differences are observed in evoked field data. The test will be called topographic consistency test (TCT). The statistical inference is based on simple randomization techniques. Apart form the methodological introduction, the paper contains a series of simulations testing the statistical power of the method as function of number of sensors and observations, a sample analysis of EEG potentials related to self-initiated finger movements, and Matlab source code to facilitate the implementation. Furthermore a series of measures to control for multiple testing are introduced and applied to the sample data.

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