On the effects of signal processing on sample entropy for postural control

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Sample entropy, a measure of time series regularity, has become increasingly popular in postural control research. We are developing a virtual reality assessment of sensory integration for postural control in people with vestibular dysfunction and wished to apply sample entropy as an outcome measure. However, despite the common use of sample entropy to quantify postural sway, we found lack of consistency in the literature regarding center-of-pressure signal manipulations prior to the computation of sample entropy. We therefore wished to investigate the effect of parameters choice and signal processing on participants’ sample entropy outcome. For that purpose, we compared center-of-pressure sample entropy data between patients with vestibular dysfunction and age-matched controls. Within our assessment, participants observed virtual reality scenes, while standing on floor or a compliant surface. We then analyzed the effect of: modification of the radius of similarity (r) and the embedding dimension (m); down-sampling or filtering and differencing or detrending. When analyzing the raw center-of-pressure data, we found a significant main effect of surface in medio-lateral and anterior-posterior directions across r’s and m’s. We also found a significant interaction group × surface in the medio-lateral direction when r was 0.05 or 0.1 with a monotonic increase in p value with increasing r in both m’s. These effects were maintained with down-sampling by 2, 3, and 4 and with detrending but not with filtering and differencing. Based on these findings, we suggest that for sample entropy to be compared across postural control studies, there needs to be increased consistency, particularly of signal handling prior to the calculation of sample entropy. Procedures such as filtering, differencing or detrending affect sample entropy values and could artificially alter the time series pattern. Therefore, if such procedures are performed they should be well justified.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0193460
JournalPloS one
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General


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