CuBIC: cumulant based inference of higher-order correlations in massively parallel spike trains

J Comput Neurosci. 2010 Aug;29(1-2):327-350. doi: 10.1007/s10827-009-0195-x. Epub 2009 Oct 28.


Recent developments in electrophysiological and optical recording techniques enable the simultaneous observation of large numbers of neurons. A meaningful interpretation of the resulting multivariate data, however, presents a serious challenge. In particular, the estimation of higher-order correlations that characterize the cooperative dynamics of groups of neurons is impeded by the combinatorial explosion of the parameter space. The resulting requirements with respect to sample size and recording time has rendered the detection of coordinated neuronal groups exceedingly difficult. Here we describe a novel approach to infer higher-order correlations in massively parallel spike trains that is less susceptible to these problems. Based on the superimposed activity of all recorded neurons, the cumulant-based inference of higher-order correlations (CuBIC) presented here exploits the fact that the absence of higher-order correlations imposes also strong constraints on correlations of lower order. Thus, estimates of only few lower-order cumulant suffice to infer higher-order correlations in the population. As a consequence, CuBIC is much better compatible with the constraints of in vivo recordings than previous approaches, which is shown by a systematic analysis of its parameter dependence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Computer Simulation
  • Models, Neurological*
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Signal Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Statistics as Topic