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Poster

#### Studying the effects of noise correlations on population coding using a sampling method

##### MPG-Autoren

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##### Zitation

Ecker, A., Berens, P., Bethge, M., Logothetis, N., & Tolias, A. (2007). *Studying
the effects of noise correlations on population coding using a sampling method*. Poster presented at Neural Coding,
Computation and Dynamics (NCCD 07), Hossegor, France.

Zitierlink: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0013-CC1D-5

##### Zusammenfassung

Responses of single neurons to a fixed stimulus are usually both variable and highly ambiguous. Therefore,
it is widely assumed that stimulus parameters are encoded by populations of neurons. An important
aspect in population coding that has received much interest in the past is the effect of correlated noise
on the accuracy of the neural code.
Theoretical studies have investigated the effects of different correlation structures on the amount of
information that can be encoded by a population of neurons based on Fisher Information. Unfortunately,
to be analytically tractable, these studies usually have to make certain simplifying assumptions such as
high firing rates and Gaussian noise. Therefore, it remains open if these results also hold in the more realistic scenario of low firing rates and discrete, Poisson-distributed spike counts.
In order to address this question we have developed a straightforward and efficient method to draw samples
from a multivariate near-maximum entropy Poisson distribution with arbitrary mean and covariance
matrix based on the dichotomized Gaussian distribution [1]. The ability to extensively sample data from
this class of distributions enables us to study the effects of different types of correlation structures and
tuning functions on the information encoded by populations of neurons under more realistic assumptions
than analytically tractable methods.
Specifically, we studied how limited range correlations (neurons with similar tuning functions and low
spatial distance are more correlated than others) affect the accuracy of a downstream decoder compared
to uniform correlations (correlations between neurons are independent of their properties and locations).
Using a set of neurons with equally spaced orientation tuning functions, we computed the error of an
optimal linear estimator (OLE) reconstructing stimulus orientation from the neurons firing rates. We
findsupporting previous theoretical resultsthat irrespective of tuning width and the number of neurons in
the network, limited range correlations decrease decoding accuracy while uniform correlations facilitate
accurate decoding. The optimal tuning width, however, did not change as a function of either the
correlation structure or the number of neurons in the network. These results are particularly interesting
since a number of experimental studies report limited range correlation structures (starting at around
0.1 to 0.2 for similar neurons) while experiments carried out in our own lab suggest that correlations are
generally low (on the order of 0.01) and uniform.