Michael Berry, Markus Meister
The relationship between a neuron's refractory period and the precision of its response to identical stimuli was investigated. We constructed a model of a spiking neuron that combines probabilistic firing with a refractory period. For realistic refractoriness, the model closely reproduced both the average firing rate and the response precision of a retinal ganglion cell. The model is based on a "free" firing rate, which exists in the absence of refractoriness. This function may be a better description of a spiking neuron's response than the peri-stimulus time histogram.