Phase Linearity Measurement: A Novel Index for Brain Functional Connectivity

IEEE Trans Med Imaging. 2019 Apr;38(4):873-882. doi: 10.1109/TMI.2018.2873423. Epub 2018 Nov 5.


The problem of describing how different brain areas interact between each other has been granted a great deal of attention in the last years. The idea that neuronal ensembles behave as oscillators and that they communicate through synchronization is now widely accepted. To this regard, EEG and MEG provide the signals that allow the estimation of such communication in vivo. Hence, phase-based metrics are essential. However, the application of phased-based metrics for measuring brain connectivity has proved problematic so far, since they appear to be less resilient to noise as compared to amplitude-based ones. In this paper, we address the problem of designing a purely phase-based brain connectivity metric, insensitive to volume conduction and resilient to noise. The proposed metric, named phase linearity measurement (PLM), is based on the analysis of similar behaviors in the phases of the recorded signals. The PLM is tested in two simulated datasets as well as in real MEG data acquired at the Naples MEG center. Due to its intrinsic characteristics, the PLM shows considerable noise rejection properties as compared to other widely adopted connectivity metrics. We conclude that the PLM might be valuable in order to allow better estimation of phase-based brain connectivity.

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Computer Simulation
  • Electroencephalography / methods
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Magnetoencephalography / methods
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Signal Processing, Computer-Assisted*