High frequency oscillations (HFOs) are a promising biomarker of epileptic tissue, but detection of these electrographic events remains a challenge. Automatic detectors show encouraging results, but they typically require optimization of multiple parameters, which is a barrier to good performance and broad applicability. We therefore propose a new automatic HFO detection algorithm, focusing on simplicity and ease of implementation. It requires tuning of only an amplitude threshold, which can be determined by an iterative process or directly calculated from statistics of the rectified filtered data (i.e. mean plus standard deviation). The iterative approach uses an estimate of the amplitude probability distribution of the background activity to calculate the optimum threshold for identification of transient high amplitude events. We tested both the iterative and non-iterative approaches using a dataset of visually marked HFOs, and we compared the performance to a commonly used detector based on the root-mean-square. When the threshold was optimized for individual channels via ROC curve, all three methods were comparable. The iterative detector achieved a sensitivity of 99.6%, false positive rate (FPR) of 1.1%, and false detection rate (FDR) of 37.3%. However, in an eight-fold cross-validation test, the iterative method had better sensitivity than the other two methods (80.0% compared to 64.4 and 65.8%), with FPR and FDR of 1.3, and 49.4%, respectively. The simplicity of this algorithm, with only a single parameter, will enable consistent application of automatic detection across research centers and recording modalities, and it may therefore be a powerful tool for the assessment and localization of epileptic activity.
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