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Applied Computational Intelligence and Soft Computing
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 525396, 6 pages
Research Article

Variance Entropy: A Method for Characterizing Perceptual Awareness of Visual Stimulus

School of Biomedical Engineering, Science and Health Systems, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA

Received 28 December 2011; Revised 22 March 2012; Accepted 23 March 2012

Academic Editor: Cheng-Hsiung Hsieh

Copyright © 2012 Meng Hu and Hualou Liang. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Entropy, as a complexity measure, is a fundamental concept for time series analysis. Among many methods, sample entropy (SampEn) has emerged as a robust, powerful measure for quantifying complexity of time series due to its insensitivity to data length and its immunity to noise. Despite its popular use, SampEn is based on the standardized data where the variance is routinely discarded, which may nonetheless provide additional information for discriminant analysis. Here we designed a simple, yet efficient, complexity measure, namely variance entropy (VarEn), to integrate SampEn with variance to achieve effective discriminant analysis. We applied VarEn to analyze local field potential (LFP) collected from visual cortex of macaque monkey while performing a generalized flash suppression task, in which a visual stimulus was dissociated from perceptual experience, to study neural complexity of perceptual awareness. We evaluated the performance of VarEn in comparison with SampEn on LFP, at both single and multiple scales, in discriminating different perceptual conditions. Our results showed that perceptual visibility could be differentiated by VarEn, with significantly better discriminative performance than SampEn. Our findings demonstrate that VarEn is a sensitive measure of perceptual visibility, and thus can be used to probe perceptual awareness of a stimulus.