PT - JOURNAL ARTICLE
AU - Donoghue, Thomas
AU - Dominguez, Julio
AU - Voytek, Bradley
TI - Electrophysiological Frequency Band Ratio Measures Conflate Periodic and Aperiodic Neural Activity
AID - 10.1523/ENEURO.0192-20.2020
DP - 2020 Nov 01
TA - eneuro
PG - ENEURO.0192-20.2020
VI - 7
IP - 6
4099 - http://www.eneuro.org/content/7/6/ENEURO.0192-20.2020.short
4100 - http://www.eneuro.org/content/7/6/ENEURO.0192-20.2020.full
SO - eNeuro2020 Nov 01; 7
AB - Band ratio measures, computed as the ratio of power between two frequency bands, are a common analysis measure in neuroelectrophysiological recordings. Band ratio measures are typically interpreted as reflecting quantitative measures of periodic, or oscillatory, activity. This assumes that the measure reflects relative powers of distinct periodic components that are well captured by predefined frequency ranges. However, electrophysiological signals contain periodic components and a 1/f-like aperiodic component, the latter of which contributes power across all frequencies. Here, we investigate whether band ratio measures truly reflect oscillatory power differences, and/or to what extent ratios may instead reflect other periodic changes, such as in center frequency or bandwidth, and/or aperiodic activity. In simulation, we investigate how band ratio measures relate to changes in multiple spectral features, and show how multiple periodic and aperiodic features influence band ratio measures. We validate these findings in human electroencephalography (EEG) data, comparing band ratio measures to parameterizations of power spectral features and find that multiple disparate features influence ratio measures. For example, the commonly applied θ/β ratio is most reflective of differences in aperiodic activity, and not oscillatory θ or β power. Collectively, we show that periodic and aperiodic features can create the same observed changes in band ratio measures, and that this is inconsistent with their typical interpretations as measures of periodic power. We conclude that band ratio measures are a non-specific measure, conflating multiple possible underlying spectral changes, and recommend explicit parameterization of neural power spectra as a more specific approach.