Unraveling nonlinear electrophysiologic processes in the human visual system with full dimension spectral analysis

Kien Trong Nguyen, Wei Kuang Liang, Victor Lee, Wen Sheng Chang, Neil G. Muggleton, Jia Rong Yeh, Norden E. Huang, Chi Hung Juan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Natural sensory signals have nonlinear structures dynamically composed of the carrier frequencies and the variation of the amplitude (i.e., envelope). How the human brain processes the envelope information is still poorly understood, largely due to the conventional analysis failing to quantify it directly. Here, we used a recently developed method, Holo-Hilbert spectral analysis, and steady-state visually evoked potential collected using electroencephalography (EEG) recordings to investigate how the human visual system processes the envelope of amplitude-modulated signals, in this case with a 14 Hz carrier and a 2 Hz envelope. The EEG results demonstrated that in addition to the fundamental stimulus frequencies, 4 Hz amplitude modulation residing in 14 Hz carrier and a broad range of carrier frequencies covering from 8 to 32 Hz modulated by 2 Hz amplitude modulation are also found in the two-dimensional frequency spectrum, which have not yet been recognized before. The envelope of the stimulus is also found to dominantly modulate the response to the incoming signal. The findings thus reveal that the electrophysiological response to amplitude-modulated stimuli is more complex than could be revealed by, for example, Fourier analysis. This highlights the dynamics of neural processes in the visual system.

Original languageEnglish
Article number16919
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2019


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