Dual roles for spike signaling in cortical neural populations


A prominent feature of signaling in cortical neurons is that of randomness in the action potential. The output of a typical pyramidal cell can be well fit with a Poisson model, and variations in the Poisson rate repeatedly have been shown to be correlated with stimuli. However while the rate provides a very useful characterization of neural spike data, it may not be the most fundamental description of the signaling code. Recent data showing γ frequency range multi-cell action potential correlations, together with spike timing dependent plasticity, are spurring a re-examination of the classical model, since precise timing codes imply that the generation of spikes is essentially deterministic. Could the observed Poisson randomness and timing determinism reflect two separate modes of communication, or do they somehow derive from a single process? We investigate in a timing-based model whether the apparent incompatibility between these probabilistic and deterministic observations may be resolved by examining how spikes could be used in the underlying neural circuits. The crucial component of this model draws on dual roles for spike signaling. In learning receptive fields from ensembles of inputs, spikes need to behave probabilistically, whereas for fast signaling of individual stimuli, the spikes need to behave deterministically. Our simulations show that this combination is possible if deterministic signals using γ latency coding are probabilistically routed through different members of a cortical cell population at different times. This model exhibits standard features characteristic of Poisson models such as orientation tuning post-stimulus histograms and exponential interval histograms. In addition it makes testable predictions that follow from the γ latency coding

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oaioai:doaj.org/article:322e9561239842259cb391b862e3a2f9Last time updated on 12/18/2014

This paper was published in Directory of Open Access Journals.

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