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Analyzing Short-Term Noise Dependencies of Spike-Counts in Macaque Prefrontal Cortex Using Copulas and the Flashlight Transformation

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  • Arno Onken
  • Steffen Grünewälder
  • Matthias H. J. Munk
  • Klaus Obermayer

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Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1000577
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalPLoS Computational Biology
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 26 Nov 2009


Author Summary The brain has an enormous number of neurons that do not work alone but in an ensemble. Yet, mostly individual neurons were measured in the past and therefore models were restricted to independent neurons. With the advent of new multi-electrode techniques, however, it becomes possible to measure a great number of neurons simultaneously. As a result, models of how populations of neurons co-vary are becoming increasingly important. Here, we describe such a framework based on so-called copulas. Copulas allow to separate the neural variation structure of the population from the variability of the individual neurons. Contrary to standard models, versatile dependence structures can be described using this approach. We explore what additional information is provided by the detailed dependence. For simulated neurons, we show that the variation structure of the population allows inference of the underlying connectivity structure of the neurons. The power of the approach is demonstrated on a memory experiment in macaque monkey. We show that our framework describes the measurements better than the standard models and identify possible network connections of the measured neurons.

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