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Richard GonzalezRichard Gonzalez

Center Director, Research Center for Group Dynamics, Institute for Social Research
Director, BioSocial Methods Collaborative, RCGD
Amos N Tversky Collegiate Professor, Psychology and Statistics, LSA
Professor of Marketing, Stephen M Ross School of Business
Professor of Integrative Systems and Design, College of Engineering


E-mail: Email Richard Gonzalez
Address: Research Center for Group Dynamics
Institute for Social Research
University of Michigan
426 Thompson Street
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48106
Phone: 734-647-6785

Comparison of common amplitude metrics in event-related potential analysis

Oct 21, 2020 | Psychology, Statistics/Methods

Nielsen, K. & Gonzalez, R. (2020). Comparison of common amplitude metrics in event-related potential analysis. Multivariate Behavioral Research, 55, 478-493. doi:10.1080/00273171.2019.1654358 (PDF)


Waveform data resulting from time-intensive longitudinal designs require careful treatment. In particular, the statistical properties of summary metrics in this area are crucial. We draw on event-related potential (ERP) studies, a field with a relatively long history of collecting and analyzing such data, to illustrate our points. In particular, three summary measures for a component in the average ERP waveform feature prominently in the literature: the max- imum (or peak amplitude), the average (or mean amplitude) and a combination (or adaptive mean). We discuss the methodological divide associated with these summary measures. Through both analytic work and simulation study, we explore the properties (e.g., Type I and Type II errors) of these competing metrics for assessing the amplitude of an ERP component across experimental conditions. The theoretical and simulation-based arguments in this article illustrate how design (e.g., number of trials per condition) and analytic (e.g., win- dow location) choices affect the behavior of these amplitude summary measures in statistical tests and highlight the need for transparency in reporting the analytic steps taken. There is an increased need for analytic tools for waveform data. As new analytic methods are developed to address these time-intensive longitudinal data, careful treatment of the statistical properties of summary metrics used for null hypothesis testing is crucial.