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A new method is presented to decompose nonstationary signals into a summation of oscillatory components with time varying frequency, amplitude, and phase characteristics. This method, referred to as piecewise Prony method (PPM), is an improvement over the classical Prony method, which can only deal with signals containing components with fixed frequency, amplitude and phase, and monotonically increasing or decreasing rate of change. PPM allows the study of the temporal profile of post-stimulus signal changes in single-trial evoked potentials (EPs), which can lead to new insights in EP generation. The authors have evaluated this method on simulated data to test its limitations and capabilities, and also on single-trial EPs. The simulation experiments showed that the PPM can detect amplitude changes as small as 10%, rate changes as small as 10% and 0.15 Hz of frequency changes. The capabilities of the PPM were demonstrated using single electroencephalogram/EP trials of flash visual EPs recorded from one normal subject. The trial-by-trial results confirmed that the stimulation drastically attenuates the alpha activity shortly after stimulus presentation, with the alpha activity returning about 0.5 s later. The PPM results also provided evidence that delta activity undergoes phase alignment following stimulus presentation.
Date of Publication: Dec. 2000