Discriminating Valid from Spurious Indices of Phase-Amplitude Coupling

Ole Jensen, Eelke Spaak, Hyojin Park

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)
155 Downloads (Pure)


Recently there has been a strong interest in cross-frequency coupling, the interaction between neuronal oscillations in different frequency bands. In particular, measures quantifying the coupling between the phase of slow oscillations and the amplitude of fast oscillations have been applied to a wide range of data recorded from animals and humans. Some of the measures applied to detect phase-amplitude coupling have been criticized for being sensitive to nonsinusoidal properties of the oscillations and thus spuriously indicate the presence of coupling. While such instances of spurious identification of coupling have been observed, in this commentary we give concrete examples illustrating cases when the identification of cross-frequency coupling can be trusted. These examples are based on control analyses and empirical observations rather than signal-processing tools. Finally, we provide concrete advice on how to determine when measures of phase-amplitude coupling can be considered trustworthy.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages8
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 26 Dec 2016


  • Action Potentials
  • Alpha Rhythm
  • Animals
  • Electroencephalography
  • Gamma Rhythm
  • Humans
  • Magnetoencephalography
  • Memory
  • Rats
  • Theta Rhythm
  • Visual Perception
  • Journal Article


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