Joao Semedo, Amin Zandvakili, Adam Kohn, Christian K. Machens, Byron M. Yu
Developments in neural recording technology are rapidly enabling the recording of populations of neurons in multiple brain areas simultaneously, as well as the identification of the types of neurons being recorded (e.g., excitatory vs. inhibitory). There is a growing need for statistical methods to study the interaction among multiple, labeled populations of neurons. Rather than attempting to identify direct interactions between neurons (where the number of interactions grows with the number of neurons squared), we propose to extract a smaller number of latent variables from each population and study how the latent variables interact. Specifically, we propose extensions to probabilistic canonical correlation analysis (pCCA) to capture the temporal structure of the latent variables, as well as to distinguish within-population dynamics from across-population interactions (termed Group Latent Auto-Regressive Analysis, gLARA). We then applied these methods to populations of neurons recorded simultaneously in visual areas V1 and V2, and found that gLARA provides a better description of the recordings than pCCA. This work provides a foundation for studying how multiple populations of neurons interact and how this interaction supports brain function.