Filter-based phase shifts distort neuronal timing information

Dorin Yael, Jacob J. Vecht, Izhar Bar-Gad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Filters are widely used for the modulation, typically attenuation, of amplitudes of different frequencies within neurophysiological signals. Filters, however, also induce changes in the phases of different frequencies whose amplitude is unmodulated. These phase shifts cause time lags in the filtered signals, leading to a disruption of the timing information between different frequencies within the same signal and between different signals. The emerging time lags can be either constant in the case of linear phase (LP) filters or vary as a function of the frequency in the more common case of non-LP (NLP) filters. Since filters are used ubiquitously online in the early stages of data acquisition, the vast majority of neurophysiological signals thus suffer from distortion of the timing information even prior to their sampling. This distortion is often exacerbated by further multiple offline filtering stages of the sampled signal. The distortion of timing information may cause misinterpretation of the results and lead to erroneous conclusions. Here we present a variety of typical examples of filter-induced phase distortions and discuss the evaluation and restoration of the timing information underlying the original signal.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0261-17.2018
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Yael et al.


  • Filters
  • Neurophysiology
  • Oscillations
  • Phase
  • Timing
  • Waveform


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