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      How advances in neural recording affect data analysis

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      Nature Neuroscience

      Springer Science and Business Media LLC

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          Abstract

          Over the last five decades, progress in neural recording techniques has allowed the number of simultaneously recorded neurons to double approximately every 7 years, mimicking Moore's law. Such exponential growth motivates us to ask how data analysis techniques are affected by progressively larger numbers of recorded neurons. Traditionally, neurons are analyzed independently on the basis of their tuning to stimuli or movement. Although tuning curve approaches are unaffected by growing numbers of simultaneously recorded neurons, newly developed techniques that analyze interactions between neurons become more accurate and more complex as the number of recorded neurons increases. Emerging data analysis techniques should consider both the computational costs and the potential for more accurate models associated with this exponential growth of the number of recorded neurons.

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          Most cited references 36

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          Neural correlations, population coding and computation.

          How the brain encodes information in population activity, and how it combines and manipulates that activity as it carries out computations, are questions that lie at the heart of systems neuroscience. During the past decade, with the advent of multi-electrode recording and improved theoretical models, these questions have begun to yield answers. However, a complete understanding of neuronal variability, and, in particular, how it affects population codes, is missing. This is because variability in the brain is typically correlated, and although the exact effects of these correlations are not known, it is known that they can be large. Here, we review studies that address the interaction between neuronal noise and population codes, and discuss their implications for population coding in general.
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            Spatio-temporal correlations and visual signalling in a complete neuronal population.

            Statistical dependencies in the responses of sensory neurons govern both the amount of stimulus information conveyed and the means by which downstream neurons can extract it. Although a variety of measurements indicate the existence of such dependencies, their origin and importance for neural coding are poorly understood. Here we analyse the functional significance of correlated firing in a complete population of macaque parasol retinal ganglion cells using a model of multi-neuron spike responses. The model, with parameters fit directly to physiological data, simultaneously captures both the stimulus dependence and detailed spatio-temporal correlations in population responses, and provides two insights into the structure of the neural code. First, neural encoding at the population level is less noisy than one would expect from the variability of individual neurons: spike times are more precise, and can be predicted more accurately when the spiking of neighbouring neurons is taken into account. Second, correlations provide additional sensory information: optimal, model-based decoding that exploits the response correlation structure extracts 20% more information about the visual scene than decoding under the assumption of independence, and preserves 40% more visual information than optimal linear decoding. This model-based approach reveals the role of correlated activity in the retinal coding of visual stimuli, and provides a general framework for understanding the importance of correlated activity in populations of neurons.
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              Stimulus onset quenches neural variability: a widespread cortical phenomenon

              Neural responses are typically characterized by computing the mean firing rate. Yet response variability can exist across trials. Many studies have examined the impact of a stimulus on the mean response, yet few have examined the impact on response variability. We measured neural variability in 13 extracellularly-recorded datasets and one intracellularly-recorded dataset from 7 areas spanning the four cortical lobes. In every case, stimulus onset caused a decline in neural variability. This occurred even when the stimulus produced little change in mean firing rate. The variability decline was observable in membrane potential recordings, in the spiking of individual neurons, and in correlated spiking variability measured with implanted 96-electrode arrays. The variability decline was observed for all stimuli tested, regardless of whether the animal was awake, behaving, or anaesthetized. This widespread variability decline suggests a rather general property of cortex: that its state is stabilized by an input.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Nature Neuroscience
                Nat Neurosci
                Springer Science and Business Media LLC
                1097-6256
                1546-1726
                February 2011
                January 26 2011
                February 2011
                : 14
                : 2
                : 139-142
                Article
                10.1038/nn.2731
                3410539
                21270781
                © 2011

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