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Clin Neurophysiol. 2005 Mar;116(3):696-707. Epub 2004 Nov 10.

Inter-rater reliability of sleep cyclic alternating pattern (CAP) scoring and validation of a new computer-assisted CAP scoring method.

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Department of Neurology I.C., Sleep Research Centre, Oasi Institute for Research on Mental Retardation and Brain Aging (IRCCS), Via C. Ruggero 73, 94018 Troina, Italy.



To assess inter-rater reliability between different scorers, from different qualified sleep research groups, in scoring visually the Cyclic Alternating Pattern (CAP), to evaluate the performances of a new tool for the computer-assisted detection of CAP, and to compare its output with the data from the different scorers.


CAP was scored in 11 normal sleep recordings by four different raters, coming from three sleep laboratories. CAP was also scored in the same recordings by means of a new computer-assisted method, implemented in the Hypnolab 1.2 (SWS Soft, Italy) software. Data analysis was performed according to the following steps: (a) the inter-rater reliability of CAP parameters between the four different scorers was carried out by means of the Kendall W coefficient of concordance; (b) the analysis of the agreement between the results of the visual and computer-assisted analysis of CAP parameters was also carried out by means of the Kendall W coefficient; (c) a 'consensus' scoring was obtained, for each recording, from the four scorings provided by the different raters, based on the score of the majority of scorers; (d) the degree of agreement between each scorer and the consensus score and between the computer-assisted analysis and the consensus score was quantified by means of the Cohen's k coefficient; (e) the differences between the number of false positive and false negative detections obtained in the visual and in the computer-assisted analysis were also evaluated by means of the non-parametric Wilcoxon test.


The inter-rater reliability of CAP parameters quantified by the Kendall W coefficient of concordance between the four different scorers was high for all the parameters considered and showed values above 0.9 for total CAP time, CAP time in sleep stage 2 and percentage of A phases in sequence; also CAP rate showed a high value (0.829). The most important global parameters of CAP, including total CAP rate and CAP time, scored by the computer-assisted analysis showed a significant concordance with those obtained by the raters. The agreement between the computer-assisted analysis and the consensus scoring for the assignment of the CAP A phase subtype was not distinguishable from that expected from a human scorer. However, the computer-assisted analysis provided a number of false positives and false negatives significantly higher than that of the visual scoring of CAP.


CAP scoring shows good inter-rater reliability and might be compared in different laboratories the results of which might also be pooled together; however, caution should always be taken because of the variability which can be expected in the classical sleep staging. The computer-assisted detection of CAP can be used with some supervision and correction in large studies when only general parameters such as CAP rate are considered; more editing is necessary for the correct use of the other results.


This article describes the first attempt in the literature to evaluate in a detailed way the inter-rater reliability in scoring CAP parameters of normal sleep and the performances of a human-supervised computerized automatic detection system.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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