EEG-Annotate: Automated identification and labeling of events in continuous signals with applications to EEG

J Neurosci Methods. 2018 Jan 1;293:359-374. doi: 10.1016/j.jneumeth.2017.10.011. Epub 2017 Oct 20.


Background: In controlled laboratory EEG experiments, researchers carefully mark events and analyze subject responses time-locked to these events. Unfortunately, such markers may not be available or may come with poor timing resolution for experiments conducted in less-controlled naturalistic environments.

New method: We present an integrated event-identification method for identifying particular responses that occur in unlabeled continuously recorded EEG signals based on information from recordings of other subjects potentially performing related tasks. We introduce the idea of timing slack and timing-tolerant performance measures to deal with jitter inherent in such non-time-locked systems. We have developed an implementation available as an open-source MATLAB toolbox ( and have made test data available in a separate data note.

Results: We applied the method to identify visual presentation events (both target and non-target) in data from an unlabeled subject using labeled data from other subjects with good sensitivity and specificity. The method also identified actual visual presentation events in the data that were not previously marked in the experiment.

Comparison with existing methods: Although the method uses traditional classifiers for initial stages, the problem of identifying events based on the presence of stereotypical EEG responses is the converse of the traditional stimulus-response paradigm and has not been addressed in its current form.

Conclusions: In addition to identifying potential events in unlabeled or incompletely labeled EEG, these methods also allow researchers to investigate whether particular stereotypical neural responses are present in other circumstances. Timing-tolerance has the added benefit of accommodating inter- and intra- subject timing variations.

Keywords: EEG; Event identification; Single-trial ERP; Stimulus-response; Time-locked.

MeSH terms

  • Brain / physiology
  • Electroencephalography / methods
  • Electroencephalography / mortality*
  • Evoked Potentials, Visual
  • Friends
  • Humans
  • Military Personnel
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Pattern Recognition, Automated / methods*
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology
  • Signal Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Software