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Title: When are hypotheses useful in ecology and evolution?

Research hypotheses have been a cornerstone of science since before Galileo. Many have argued that hypotheses (1) encourage discovery of mechanisms, and (2) reduce bias—both features that should increase transferability and reproducibility. However, we are entering a new era of big data and highly predictive models where some argue the hypothesis is outmoded. We hypothesized that hypothesis use has declined in ecology and evolution since the 1990s, given the substantial advancement of tools further facilitating descriptive, correlative research. Alternatively, hypothesis use may have becomemorefrequent due to the strong recommendation by some journals and funding agencies that submissions have hypothesis statements. Using a detailed literature analysis (N = 268 articles), we found prevalence of hypotheses in eco–evo research is very low (6.7%–26%) and static from 1990–2015, a pattern mirrored in an extensive literature search (N = 302,558 articles). Our literature review also indicates that neither grant success nor citation rates were related to the inclusion of hypotheses, which may provide disincentive for hypothesis formulation. Here, we review common justifications for avoiding hypotheses and present new arguments based on benefits to the individual researcher. We argue that stating multiple alternative hypotheses increases research clarity and precision, and is more likely to address the mechanisms for more » observed patterns in nature. Although hypotheses are not always necessary, we expect their continued and increased use will help our fields move toward greater understanding, reproducibility, prediction, and effective conservation of nature.

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Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Ecology and Evolution
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
p. 5762-5776
Wiley Blackwell (John Wiley & Sons)
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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  2. Obeid, Iyad Selesnick (Ed.)
    Electroencephalography (EEG) is a popular clinical monitoring tool used for diagnosing brain-related disorders such as epilepsy [1]. As monitoring EEGs in a critical-care setting is an expensive and tedious task, there is a great interest in developing real-time EEG monitoring tools to improve patient care quality and efficiency [2]. However, clinicians require automatic seizure detection tools that provide decisions with at least 75% sensitivity and less than 1 false alarm (FA) per 24 hours [3]. Some commercial tools recently claim to reach such performance levels, including the Olympic Brainz Monitor [4] and Persyst 14 [5]. In this abstract, we describe our efforts to transform a high-performance offline seizure detection system [3] into a low latency real-time or online seizure detection system. An overview of the system is shown in Figure 1. The main difference between an online versus offline system is that an online system should always be causal and has minimum latency which is often defined by domain experts. The offline system, shown in Figure 2, uses two phases of deep learning models with postprocessing [3]. The channel-based long short term memory (LSTM) model (Phase 1 or P1) processes linear frequency cepstral coefficients (LFCC) [6] features from each EEGmore »channel separately. We use the hypotheses generated by the P1 model and create additional features that carry information about the detected events and their confidence. The P2 model uses these additional features and the LFCC features to learn the temporal and spatial aspects of the EEG signals using a hybrid convolutional neural network (CNN) and LSTM model. Finally, Phase 3 aggregates the results from both P1 and P2 before applying a final postprocessing step. 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The difference between the maximum and minimum temporal energy terms is calculated in this range. Then, the first derivative or the delta features are calculated using another 0.9-second window. Finally, the second derivative or delta-delta features are calculated using a 0.3-second window [6]. The differential energy for the delta-delta features is not included. In total, we extract 26 features from the raw sample windows which add 1.1 seconds of delay to the system. We used the Temple University Hospital Seizure Database (TUSZ) v1.2.1 for developing the online system [10]. The statistics for this dataset are shown in Table 1. A channel-based LSTM model was trained using the features derived from the train set using the online feature extractor module. A window-based normalization technique was applied to those features. In the offline model, we scale features by normalizing using the maximum absolute value of a channel [11] before applying a sliding window approach. 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These filters evaluate the average confidence, the duration of a seizure, and the channels where the seizures were observed. The postprocessor delivers the label and confidence to the visualizer. The visualizer starts to display the signal as soon as it gets access to the signal file, as shown in Figure 1 using the “Signal File” and “Visualizer” blocks. Once the visualizer receives the label and confidence for the latest epoch from the postprocessor, it overlays the decision and color codes that epoch. The visualizer uses red for seizure with the label SEIZ and green for the background class with the label BCKG. Once the streaming finishes, the system saves three files: a signal file in which the sample frames are saved in the order they were streamed, a time segmented event (TSE) file with the overall decisions and confidences, and a hypotheses (HYP) file that saves the label and confidence for each epoch. 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Using the offline decoder and postprocessor, the model performed at 36.23% sensitivity with 9.52 FAs per 24 hours. The trained model was then evaluated with the online modules. The current performance of the overall online system is 45.80% sensitivity with 28.14 FAs per 24 hours. Table 2 summarizes the performances of these systems. The performance of the online system deviates from the offline P1 model because the online postprocessor fails to combine the events as the seizure probability fluctuates during an event. The modules in the online system add a total of 11.1 seconds of delay for processing each second of the data, as shown in Figure 3. In practice, we also count the time for loading the model and starting the visualizer block. When we consider these facts, the system consumes 15 seconds to display the first hypothesis. The system detects seizure onsets with an average latency of 15 seconds. Implementing an automatic seizure detection model in real time is not trivial. We used a variety of techniques such as the file locking mechanism, multithreading, circular buffers, real-time event decoding, and signal-decision plotting to realize the system. A video demonstrating the system is available at: The final conference submission will include a more detailed analysis of the online performance of each module. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS Research reported in this publication was most recently supported by the National Science Foundation Partnership for Innovation award number IIP-1827565 and the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Universal Research Enhancement Program (PA CURE). Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official views of any of these organizations. REFERENCES [1] A. Craik, Y. He, and J. L. Contreras-Vidal, “Deep learning for electroencephalogram (EEG) classification tasks: a review,” J. Neural Eng., vol. 16, no. 3, p. 031001, 2019. [2] A. C. Bridi, T. Q. Louro, and R. C. L. Da Silva, “Clinical Alarms in intensive care: implications of alarm fatigue for the safety of patients,” Rev. Lat. Am. Enfermagem, vol. 22, no. 6, p. 1034, 2014. [3] M. Golmohammadi, V. Shah, I. Obeid, and J. Picone, “Deep Learning Approaches for Automatic Seizure Detection from Scalp Electroencephalograms,” in Signal Processing in Medicine and Biology: Emerging Trends in Research and Applications, 1st ed., I. Obeid, I. Selesnick, and J. Picone, Eds. New York, New York, USA: Springer, 2020, pp. 233–274. [4] “CFM Olympic Brainz Monitor.” [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 17-Jul-2020]. [5] M. L. Scheuer, S. B. Wilson, A. Antony, G. Ghearing, A. Urban, and A. I. Bagic, “Seizure Detection: Interreader Agreement and Detection Algorithm Assessments Using a Large Dataset,” J. Clin. Neurophysiol., 2020. [6] A. Harati, M. Golmohammadi, S. Lopez, I. Obeid, and J. Picone, “Improved EEG Event Classification Using Differential Energy,” in Proceedings of the IEEE Signal Processing in Medicine and Biology Symposium, 2015, pp. 1–4. [7] V. Shah, C. Campbell, I. Obeid, and J. Picone, “Improved Spatio-Temporal Modeling in Automated Seizure Detection using Channel-Dependent Posteriors,” Neurocomputing, 2021. [8] W. Tatum, A. Husain, S. Benbadis, and P. Kaplan, Handbook of EEG Interpretation. New York City, New York, USA: Demos Medical Publishing, 2007. [9] D. P. Bovet and C. Marco, Understanding the Linux Kernel, 3rd ed. O’Reilly Media, Inc., 2005. [10] V. Shah et al., “The Temple University Hospital Seizure Detection Corpus,” Front. Neuroinform., vol. 12, pp. 1–6, 2018. [11] F. Pedregosa et al., “Scikit-learn: Machine Learning in Python,” J. Mach. Learn. Res., vol. 12, pp. 2825–2830, 2011. [12] J. Gotman, D. Flanagan, J. Zhang, and B. Rosenblatt, “Automatic seizure detection in the newborn: Methods and initial evaluation,” Electroencephalogr. Clin. 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