Channel Contribution In Deep Learning Based Automatic Sleep Scoring – How Many Channels Do We Need?

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Machine learning based sleep scoring methods aim to automate the process of annotating polysomnograms with sleep stages. Although sleep signals of multiple modalities and channels should contain more information according to sleep guidelines, most multi-channel multi modal models in the literature showed only a little performance improvement compared to single-channel EEG models and sometimes even failed to outperform them. In this paper, we investigate whether the high performance of single-channel EEG models can be attributed to specific model features in their deep learning architectures and to which extent multi-channel multi-modal models take the information from different channels of modalities into account. First, we transfer the model features from single channel EEG models, such as combinations of small and large filters in CNNs, to multi-channel multi-modal models and measure their impacts. Second, we employ two explainability methods, the layer-wise relevance propagation as post-hoc and the embedded channel attention network as intrinsic interpretability methods, to measure the contribution of different channels on predictive performance. We find that i) single-channel model features can improve the performance of multi-channel multi-modal models and ii) multi-channel multi-modal models focus on one important channel per modality and use the remaining channels to complement the information of the focused channels. Our results suggest that more advanced methods for aggregating channel information using complementary information from other channels may improve sleep scoring performance for multi-channel multi-modal models.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)494-505
Number of pages12
JournalIEEE transactions on neural systems and rehabilitation engineering
Early online date6 Dec 2022
Publication statusPublished - 6 Dec 2022


  • Channel contribution
  • Deep Learning
  • EEG
  • EOG
  • EMG
  • Multi-channel multi-modal sleep scoring


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