Accuracy of computer algorithms and the human eye in scoring actigraphy

Kathleen Boyne, David D. Sherry, Paul R. Gallagher, Margaret Olsen, Lee J. Brooks*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Purpose: The purpose of this study is to determine the optimal scoring method and parameter settings of actigraphy by comparison to simultaneous polysomnography (PSG). Methods: Fifteen studies of simultaneous PSG and actigraphy were completed in adolescents (mean age = 16.3 years) and analyzed. Scoring actigraphy by the human eye was compared to a commercial computerized algorithm using various parameters. The PSG was considered the reference standard. Results: There was a better correlation between actigraphy and PSG sleep start/end, total sleep time, wake after sleep onset, and sleep efficiency when the rest period was determined by the human (mean r = 0.640) rather than auto-set by the software (r = 0.406). The best results came when the rest intervals were set based on the PSG (r = 0.694). Scoring the printed actogram by the human eye was superior to the auto analyses as well (r = 0.575). Higher correlations and lower biases were obtained from lower wake threshold settings (low and medium) and higher immobility times (10 and 15 min). Conclusions: Visual scoring by simple inspection of the actigraphy tracing had a reasonable correlation with the gold standard PSG. Accurate determination of the rest interval is important in scoring actigraphy. Scoring actigraphy by the human eye is superior to this computer algorithm when auto-setting major rest periods. A low wake threshold and 10-15 min of immobility for sleep onset and sleep end yield the most accurate computerized results. Auto-setting major rest intervals should be avoided to set start/end of rest intervals; adjustments for artifacts and/or a sleep diary for comparison are helpful.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)411-417
Number of pages7
JournalSleep and Breathing
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2013


  • Actigraphy
  • Computer scoring
  • Polysomnography
  • Reference standards
  • Sleep
  • Visual scoring

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Clinical Neurology


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