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PLoS One. 2017 Nov 17;12(11):e0188210. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0188210. eCollection 2017.

The influence of filtering and downsampling on the estimation of transfer entropy.

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Department of Neurology, University Hospital Giessen & Marburg, Marburg, Germany.
Institute of Clinical Neuroscience and Medical Psychology, Medical Faculty, Heinrich-Heine-University, Düsseldorf, Germany.
Institute of Geophysics & Meteorology, University of Cologne, Cologne, Germany.


Transfer entropy (TE) provides a generalized and model-free framework to study Wiener-Granger causality between brain regions. Because of its nonparametric character, TE can infer directed information flow also from nonlinear systems. Despite its increasing number of applications in neuroscience, not much is known regarding the influence of common electrophysiological preprocessing on its estimation. We test the influence of filtering and downsampling on a recently proposed nearest neighborhood based TE estimator. Different filter settings and downsampling factors were tested in a simulation framework using a model with a linear coupling function and two nonlinear models with sigmoid and logistic coupling functions. For nonlinear coupling and progressively lower low-pass filter cut-off frequencies up to 72% false negative direct connections and up to 26% false positive connections were identified. In contrast, for the linear model, a monotonic increase was only observed for missed indirect connections (up to 86%). High-pass filtering (1 Hz, 2 Hz) had no impact on TE estimation. After low-pass filtering interaction delays were significantly underestimated. Downsampling the data by a factor greater than the assumed interaction delay erased most of the transmitted information and thus led to a very high percentage (67-100%) of false negative direct connections. Low-pass filtering increases the number of missed connections depending on the filters cut-off frequency. Downsampling should only be done if the sampling factor is smaller than the smallest assumed interaction delay of the analyzed network.

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