Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 24 (NIPS 2011)
Jakob H. Macke, Lars Buesing, John P. Cunningham, Byron M. Yu, Krishna V. Shenoy, Maneesh Sahani
Neurons in the neocortex code and compute as part of a locally interconnected population. Large-scale multi-electrode recording makes it possible to access these population processes empirically by fitting statistical models to unaveraged data. What statistical structure best describes the concurrent spiking of cells within a local network? We argue that in the cortex, where firing exhibits extensive correlations in both time and space and where a typical sample of neurons still reflects only a very small fraction of the local population, the most appropriate model captures shared variability by a low-dimensional latent process evolving with smooth dynamics, rather than by putative direct coupling. We test this claim by comparing a latent dynamical model with realistic spiking observations to coupled generalised linear spike-response models (GLMs) using cortical recordings. We find that the latent dynamical approach outperforms the GLM in terms of goodness-of-fit, and reproduces the temporal correlations in the data more accurately. We also compare models whose observations models are either derived from a Gaussian or point-process models, finding that the non-Gaussian model provides slightly better goodness-of-fit and more realistic population spike counts.