Estimation of habituation and signal-to-noise ratio of cortical evoked potentials to oesophageal electrical and mechanical stimulation
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Electrical and mechanical stimulation of the oesophagus has been recently proposed to examine the physiological effects of autonomic stimulation in humans. Cortical evoked potentials (EPs) to oesophageal stimulation provide an assessment of afferent fibres and central processing. However, habituation takes place during averaging of cortical EPs and reduces the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) as the number of stimuli increases. The SNR of cortical EPs to oesophageal stimulation is computed for 15 normal subjects. Habituation is characterised by the Euclidean distance between the EEG response to single stimuli and the averaged EP, to serve as an objective measure of similarity between the averaged EP and the single-stimulus EEG. With electrical stimulation, the SNR is highest (0.41 +/- 0.21) for 1-12 stimuli and then significantly decreases to 0.2 +/- 0.08 for 13-24 stimuli (p < 0.001). With balloon distension (BD), the SNR is highest (0.22 +/- 0.16) for 1-12 stimuli and lowest (0.12 +/- 0.14) for 13-24 stimuli, but these SNRs are not significantly different from each other. Both electrical and mechanical stimulation of the oesophagus produce rapidly adapting EPs. The SNR of the EPs is higher with electrical stimulation than with BD. The EPs response to BD has a higher variability and is more noisy. Consequently, these results suggest that the overall cortical EP response to electrical stimulation of the oesophagus is more reproducible than that due to balloon distension.
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