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Real time spike detection is an important requirement for developing brain machine interfaces (BMIs). We examined three classes of spike-detection algorithms to determine which is best suited for a wireless BMI with a limited transmission bandwidth and computational capabilities. The algorithms were analyzed by tabulating true and false detections when applied to a set of realistic artificial neural signals with known spike times and varying signal to noise ratios. A design-specific cost function was developed to score the relative merits of each detector; correct detections increased the score, while false detections and computational burden reduced it. Test signals both with and without overlapping action potentials were considered. We also investigated the utility of rejecting spikes that violate a minimum refractory period by occurring within a fixed time window after the preceding threshold crossing. Our results indicate that the cost-function scores for the absolute value operator were comparable to those for more elaborate nonlinear energy operator based detectors. The absolute value operator scores were enhanced when the refractory period check was used. Matched-filter-based detectors scored poorly due to their relatively large computational requirements that would be difficult to implement in a real-time system.
Date of Publication: June 2004