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A New Perspective on Individual Reliability beyond Group Effects for Event-related Potentials: A Multisensory Investigation and Computational Modeling

By Zhenxing Hu, Zhiguo Zhang, Zhen Liang, Li Zhang, Linling Li, Gan Huang

Posted 07 Sep 2021
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.09.06.459195

The dominant approach in investigating the individual reliability for event-related potentials (ERPs) is to extract peak-related features at electrodes showing the strongest group effects. Such a peak-based approach implicitly assumes ERP components showing a stronger group effect are also more reliable, but this assumption has not been substantially validated and few studies have investigated the reliability of ERPs beyond peaks. In this study, we performed a rigorous evaluation of the test-retest reliability of ERPs collected in a multisensory and cognitive experiment from 82 healthy adolescents, each having two sessions. By comparing group effects and individual reliability, we found that a stronger group-level response in ERPs did not guarantee a higher reliability. Further, by simulating ERPs with a computational model, we found that the consistency between group-level ERP responses and individual reliability was modulated by inter-subject latency jitter and inter-trial variability. The current findings suggest that the conventional peak-based approach may underestimate the individual reliability in ERPs. Hence, a comprehensive evaluation of the reliability of ERP measurements should be considered in individual-level neurophysiological trait evaluation and psychiatric disorder diagnosis.

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