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Empirical models of spiking in neural populations


Macke,  JH
Research Group Computational Vision and Neuroscience, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;
Department Empirical Inference, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;

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Macke, J., Büsing L, Cunningham JP, Yu BM, Shenoy, K., & Sahani, M. (2012). Empirical models of spiking in neural populations. In Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 24 (pp. 1350-1358). Red Hook, NY, USA: Curran.

Neurons in the neocortex code and compute as part of a locally interconnected population. Large-scale multi-electrode recording makes it possible to access these population processes empirically by fitting statistical models to unaveraged data. What statistical structure best describes the concurrent spiking of cells within a local network? We argue that in the cortex, where firing exhibits extensive correlations in both time and space and where a typical sample of neurons still reflects only a very small fraction of the local population, the most appropriate model captures shared variability by a low-dimensional latent process evolving with smooth dynamics, rather than by putative direct coupling. We test this claim by comparing a latent dynamical model with realistic spiking observations to coupled generalised linear spike-response models (GLMs) using cortical recordings. We find that the latent dynamical approach outperforms the GLM in terms of goodness-offit, and reproduces the temporal correlations in the data more accurately. We also compare models whose observations models are either derived from a Gaussian or point-process models, finding that the non-Gaussian model provides slightly better goodness-of-fit and more realistic population spike counts.