Abstract / Description of output
Author Summary Populations of neurons signal information by their joint activity. Dependencies between the activity of multiple neurons are typically described by the linear correlation coefficient. However, this description of the dependencies is not complete. Dependencies beyond the linear correlation coefficient, so-called higher-order correlations, are often neglected because too many experimental samples are required in order to estimate them reliably. Evaluating the importance of higher-order correlations for the neural representation has therefore been notoriously hard. We devise a statistical test that can quantify evidence for higher-order correlations without estimating higher-order correlations directly. The test yields reliable results even when the number of experimental samples is small. The power of the method is demonstrated on data which were recorded from a population of neurons in the primary visual cortex of cat during an adaptation experiment. We show that higher-order correlations can have a substantial impact on the encoded stimulus information which, moreover, is modulated by stimulus adaptation.