Pitfalls of high-pass filtering for detecting epileptic oscillations: a technical note on "false" ripples

Clin Neurophysiol. 2010 Mar;121(3):301-10. doi: 10.1016/j.clinph.2009.10.019. Epub 2009 Dec 1.


Objectives: To analyze interictal High frequency oscillations (HFOs) as observed in the medial temporal lobe of epileptic patients and animals (ripples, 80-200Hz and fast ripples, 250-600Hz). To show that the identification of interictal HFOs raises some methodological issues, as the filtering of sharp transients (e.g., epileptic spikes or artefacts) or signals with harmonics can result in "false" ripples. To illustrate and quantify the occurrence of false ripples on filtered EEG traces.

Methods: We have performed high-pass filtering on both simulated and real data. We have also used two alternate methods: time-frequency analysis and matching pursuit.

Results: Two types of events were shown to produce oscillations after filtering that could be confounded with actual oscillatory activity: sharp transients and harmonics of non-sinusoidal signals.

Conclusions: High-pass filtering of EEG traces for detection of oscillatory activity should be performed with great care. Filtered traces should be compared to original traces for verification of presence of transients. Additional techniques such as time-frequency transforms or sparse decompositions are highly beneficial.

Significance: Our study draws the attention on an issue of great importance in the marking of HFOs on EEG traces. We illustrate complementary methods that can help both researchers and clinicians.

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Animals
  • Artifacts
  • Biological Clocks / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping / methods
  • Convulsants
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Electroencephalography / methods*
  • Epilepsy, Temporal Lobe / diagnosis*
  • Epilepsy, Temporal Lobe / physiopathology*
  • Evoked Potentials / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pilocarpine
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Signal Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Temporal Lobe / drug effects
  • Temporal Lobe / physiopathology
  • Time Factors


  • Convulsants
  • Pilocarpine