Tunable Parameters

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All SAM analyses are directed by a named parameter file. The format of this file is plain text and can be created using any convenient text editor (i.e., vi, gedit, emacs, etc.). The parameter file is normally specified with -m.

Parameters may be abbreviated, and except where noted may also be specified on the command line prefixed with two dashes, e.g., --DataSet. Some also have single dash option flags (-h), and some (e.g., ds) may be specified as exported environment variables.

Parameters specified on the command line or environment override those specified in a parameter file. If command line options are used, the actual parameters that the analysis was run with will be reconstituted as a .param file in the SAM director of the MEG dataset.

Finally, you may also define an optional parameter file called .samrc in the directory from which the program is run, which may contain parameters common to a set of analyses.

All parameters appear below. User defined input is given in all capital letters.

Dataset Parameters


 DataSet DNAME

Specifies the MEG dataset to be analyzed. Specified on the command line using -r.


Only used for 4D/BTi datasets, this specifies the additional PDF file. Specified on the command line using -d.

 Parameter File:    PDFName PDFNAME

Marker Specification


N specifies the number of unique event marker names found in the dataset that are to be used in the analysis. Up to six markers are currently permitted. If no named markers are present, the user must specify zero markers for analyses that are not state dependent. The sam_cov and sam_wts programs, together, read this parameter and parse the dataset for the named markers, generating up to six named SAM beamformer coefficient files plus Global and Sum coefficients.

 NumMarkers N



Specify Marker1 through Marker6. The numbered markers must be sequential and agree with NumMarkers. Each MarkerN parameter requires four arguments: the marker name, the start and end time relative to this marker (in seconds) and a flag (TRUE or FALSE) indicating whether this marker is to be included in the SUM covariance and beamformer coefficients. Markers cannot be specified on the command line. For example:

 NumMarkers 3
 Marker1 9r0 -0.25 0.25 TRUE
 Marker2 9r1 -0.25 0.25 TRUE
 Marker3 9r2 -0.25 0.25 TRUE

Frequency Specification


Passband frequencies (in Hz) for filtering the data prior to computing the covariance matrices. A wide bandwidth covariance (much wider than ImageBand) is useful when analyzing MEG data that has very large artifacts, due to tDCS, tACS, or VNS. In such cases, a wide bandwidth will improve rejection of interference by including interference in the beamformer coefficient computations.

 Parameter File:    CovBand LO HI
 Command Line:      --CovBand LO HI


Passband frequencies (in Hz) for SAM imaging. In instances where you may want to use a wider bandwidth for calculation of the covariance matrix to improve rejection of interference, you can still calculate your desired image metric with a more narrow bandwidth.

 Parameter File:    ImageBand LO HI
 Command Line:      --ImageBand LO HI


A separate covariance matrix, using all data samples is used for estimating the dipole orientation in the two-step scalar SAM beamformer. If OrientBand is present, the data are filtered to this passband prior to computing the Orient.cov file. Otherwise, the Orient.cov file will be identical to Global.cov. This option allows the user to optimize the source orientation by specifying a passband where signal-to-noise is high (such as beta). As a first principle, the source orientation is assumed to be stationary, which is why all data samples are used. For example:

 Parameter File:    OrientBand LO HI
 Command Line:      --OrientBand LO HI


The default method of determining mean sensor noise is finding the rank where the first derivative is at a minimum in the covariance eigenvalue spectrum; this yields only a mean noise value for all sensors. In practice, however, there may be differences in individual SQUID sensor noise. This factor becomes important when imaging high frequency power (fast ripples, etc.) where signal-to-noise is marginal. The mean sensor noise will result in a non-uniform SAM image magnitude, which may be misleading. To overcome this limitation, the user can specify a NoiseBand passband that extends well above the frequencies of interest where the MEG signal is (presumably) vanishingly small. The product of the noise covariance with the SAM beamformer coefficients will give the best estimate of the actual projected noise for each voxel.

 Parameter File:    NoiseBand LO HI
 Command Line:      --NoiseBand LO HI


Required for sam_4d, sam_4dc, sam_ersc, and sam_hfo, The lowpass filter (the HI value) is used to smooth the moment, Hilbert envelope of power, excess kurtosis or RVE time-series prior to saving multiple images for each latency. If LO is non-zero, then the metric is bandpass filtered (a highpass other than zero is not recommended).

 Parameter File:    SmoothBand LO HI
 Command Line:      --SmoothBand LO HI


Enables/disables notch filtering for power mains frequency and its harmonics. The default notch frequencies are based on 60 Hz power mains. This can be switched to 50 Hz using the Hz parameter. The default notch width is 4 Hz (+/- 2 Hz), using a 20th-order FFT filter. Up to 6 notch frequencies are used. Usually this is done by filtering the raw dataset using newDs. Notch filtering is recommended when operating on raw datasets.

 Parameter File:    Notch TRUE|FALSE
 Command Line:      --Notch TRUE|FALSE

Image Coordinate Space Specification


Required for sam_wts — except when using an Atlas or a target list (-t option to sam_wts). In the latter case, the image bounds are determined by the atlas ROI limits. XBounds sets the anterior-posterior ROI dimensions in centimeters, where it is positive in the anterior direction. YBounds sets the left-right ROI dimensions, which is positive in the left direction. ZBounds sets the inferior-superior ROI dimensions, which is positive in the superior direction.


This is required only for ste_ers - calculation of transfer entropy. The marker name designates the epochs or blocks to be processed for computation of the covariance matrix and probability distribution functions (PDFs).

 Parameter File:    BlockName MARKNAME
 Command Line:      --BlockName MARKNAME