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Shoutik Mukherjee, Behtash Babadi
Coordinated ensemble spiking activity is widely observable in neural recordings and central in the study of population codes, with hypothesized roles including robust stimulus representation, interareal communication of neural information, and learning and memory formation. Model-free measures of synchrony characterize the coherence of pairwise activity, but not higher-order interactions; this limitation is transcended by statistical models of ensemble spiking activity. However, existing model-based analyses often impose assumptions about the relevance of higher-order interactions and require multiple repeated trials in order to characterize dynamics in the correlational structure of ensemble activity. To address these shortcomings, we propose an adaptive greedy filtering algorithm based on a discretized mark point-process model of ensemble spiking and a corresponding precise statistical inference framework to identify significant coordinated higher-order spiking activity. In the course of developing the statistical inference procedures, we also show that confidence intervals can be constructed for greedily estimated parameters. We demonstrate the utility of our proposed methods on simulated neuronal assemblies. Applied to multi-electrode recordings of human cortical ensembles, our proposed methods provide new insights into the dynamics underlying localized population activity during transitions between brain states.